Boston Loves its Abolitionists

This historical pageant was performed back in May at Boston’s Tremont Temple as part of the “Freedom Rising” symposium. It tells the story of a young black woman who must write a history essay on an American abolitionist. Her Haitian father impresses on her the importance of Toussaint Louverture, but her instructor forces his student to stick to the textbook. The rest of the show highlights Louverture’s influence on the abolitionist community in Boston and the Civil War. Danny Glover plays Louverture.

It’s well worth watching, but it once again highlights just how central abolitionism is to this city’s Civil War memory. You would think that the abolitionists were always in the majority and even celebrated here in Boston.

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2 comments… add one

  • Patrick Young Jul 28, 2013

    In Boston, folks often forget the city’s maritime community’s involvement in the promotion of slavery and the textile industry’s reliance on its leading commodity. The tie-in between abolition and know nothingism is unremarked on, and the use of Irish militia in the return of a recaptured slave get little attention.

    Here in New York the memory of the Triangle Shirtwaist Fire tends to focus on the Jewish and Italian factory girls as heroic victims or on politicians like Al Smith and Wagner as crusading reformers. The complexities of labor radicalism and the resistance of New York’s establishment to labor protections don’t get nearly as much play.

    Remind’s me of Nietzsche’s prayer “Oh lord, please don’t let me be ahead of my time.” We tend to valorize dead progressives as though they represented the spirit of their age but only by trimming off inconvenient facts.

    • Kevin Levin Jul 28, 2013

      In Boston, folks often forget the city’s maritime community’s involvement in the promotion of slavery and the textile industry’s reliance on its leading commodity.

      I focused on this last year in class and will do so again this year.

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