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Like today, the 1770s saw its fair share of protests in the name of freedom. On March 5, 1770, an event to be remembered as the Boston Massacre, men in uniform shot and killed an unarmed black man named Crispus Attucks. And also similar to current events, those soldiers got away with it, aided by America’s future president, John Adams, as their lawyer. In this first session of Carolina K-12’s and the NCMOH’s virtual “TEACHING HARD HISTORY” series (, Dr. Sonny Kelly will discuss the parallels between the events of 1770 and the events of 2020, when America finds itself still grappling with police violence against black and brown bodies, a racialized justice system, and double standards regarding who has the right to protest for the ideals of freedom and justice. Dr. Kelly will also perform excerpts from his one-man show “The Talk,” born of a painful conversation he had with his own black son upon hearing about protests and riots following Freddie Gray’s death in 2015.
This session will also include particular discussion of strategies for teaching difficult topics in the public school classroom, from our nation’s “hard history” to difficult current events, in the public school classroom.
Click here to view a video of this workshop. (Pre-reading recommended before viewing: Black Lives & the Boston Massacre.)
Workshop Resources

Carolina K-12 at UNC-Chapel Hill –

Carolina K-12’s Database of K-12 Resources

Tips for Tackling Sensitive History & Controversial Current Events in the Classroom

NC Museum of History –

Beyond the Exhibits: Learn about how the NC Museum of History’s offerings for teachers & students! 


This program is provided by Carolina K-12 and the NC Museum of History and is funded by the Braitmayer Foundation.