The Bostonian Society Partners with Brown Art Ink On a Series of Public Programs
The Bostonian Society is joining forces with Brown Art Ink, a nomadic community incubator, on a series of public programs aiming to advance the tradition of public oration as a tool of civic action. Participants in these workshops will be led by local artists in exercises to develop original orations to highlight issues important to their own communities. These sessions will be free to the public. The first will take place on November 16 at the Old State House, facilitated by local poet and artist Johnette Ellis of arts incubator Mother Mercy. Details are available at bostonhistory.org/orations.
Boston has a deep and unique history of public oration as a means of protest and activism. The upcoming workshops come at the 250th anniversary of the Boston Massacre and the death of Crispus Attucks in 1770. Commemorative orations delivered one year later at the Old South Meeting House gave voice to the hopes and fears of early Americans in the wake of violence, and their annual resurgence helped galvanize public sentiment at the dawn of the Revolution. In public speeches more than 80 years afterward, anti-slavery leaders once again invoked the story of Crispus Attucks, the first man to fall at the Massacre, to stir the spirit of freedom against the institution of slavery.
"The Old State House has long been home to important conversations about how we can effect change in our society, and who has a right to take part in that change," says Nathaniel Sheidley, Executive Director of the Bostonian Society. "Public oration as a response to the Boston Massacre awoke a spirit of political action in the people of the city. Engaging in that historic tradition offers people today with a dynamic roadmap for facing present challenges, and can inspire them to amplify the issues and concerns of their own communities with their own voices."
The November 16 workshop will be the first of three, with additional public workshops to follow in December of 2019 and January of 2020. The site of the original Boston Massacre orations, the Old South Meeting House hosts annual events featuring reenactments and readings of past speeches. Select participants from these workshops may be invited to deliver their original works at the 2020 commemoration. Brown Art Ink will also facilitate a professional development session with staff of the Bostonian Society to integrate the lessons learned from the community engagement process into their 2020 programs and exhibitions.
Participation in the public workshops is free, but registration is required. More information and registration can be found at bostonhistory.org/orations.