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Democracy, Hope and the Meaning of the American Revolution

October 10 @ 10:30 AM 12:00 PM

Chernoh Sesay, Ph.D., Associate Professor in the Department of Religious Studies at DePaul University, will speak on the topic, Democracy, Hope and the Meaning of the American Revolution.  As we approach the sesquicentennial of the American Revolution, and in the midst of the dramatic events of January 6, 2021, the upwelling of social justice protest, a current pandemic and the specter of historic environmental change, debates about America history have taken on new and renewed relevance. In this context, it is important to have a conversation about what the American Revolution was, what it means to us today, and what it meant to those who experienced it.  This talk will tack back and forth between the past and present as it examines the question of what it means to be American.  Within these larger contexts, this presentation will link current debates about history and critical race theory to the experiences of Black and enslaved people during the Revolutionary Era.  Examining how Black people shaped and were shaped by the American Revolution will provide us various ways of reflecting on our contemporary issues concerning race, rights, and justice.

Chernoh Sesay is an historian of the Black Atlantic and of colonial North American and antebellum United States history.  His research focuses on the intersection of religion, black political thought, identity, and community formation. He is currently completing a book manuscript entitled Black Boston and the Making of African-American Freemasonry: Leadership, Religion, and Community in Early America.  In this study, the early development of black Freemasonry, from its founder, Prince Hall, to its prominent antebellum member, David Walker, becomes a prism through which to consider various relationships between religion, gender, community, and interracial and black politics. He is also exploring how different forms of 19th and 20th century African American historicism were comprised of competing theological and secular concerns.