When the British soldier punched him, Crispus Attucks hesitated to fight back. Their patrols were overrunning Boston and harassing free Black people like him in an attempt to take their jobs.
But he needed his job. How would all his sacrifices – even changing his name to hide his true identity – pay off?
Like many free Black people, Attucks built a meager life as a sailor and ropemaker, but stayed in the shadows. His plan to stay low would have worked were it not for his burning rage.
There were over 550,000 enslaved Black people in America in 1770, and he used to be one of them. Both his parents had been enslaved.
If he retaliated, Attucks could be sold back into slavery. But as violence exploded around him, he joined the fight.
He decided to determine his own fate and fight back. Sadly, Attucks was among the first men to die in the Boston Massacre, which led to America’s Revolutionary War.
Although his tragic, needless death was a result of white tyranny and racism, Attucks’ determination to fight for his rights became a symbol of Black Americans’ struggle for freedom and equality.