Thursday, July 8th from 7:00pm – 8:30pm
Quock Walker, a young man from Barre, MA and of Akan and Ewe lineage, self-emancipated, endured brutality from his former enslaver, fought through the legal system to safeguard his natural freedom, and ended up ending slavery in Massachusetts.
The Quock Walker trials span from 1781 to 1783. In 1781 Quock Walker filed a civil suit against Nathaniel Jennison for assault and battery. Mr. Walker was found by the jury to be free and was awarded 50 pounds. Following appeals and a criminal case, the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court found Jennison guilty of assault and agreed with Chief Justice Cushing that the ideas of slavery and perpetual servitude were incompatible with the state constitution.
On June 15, 1780, the Constitution of the Commonwealth was ratified by the voters of Massachusetts. The first article stated, “All men are born free and equal, and have certain natural, essential, and unalienable rights; among which may be reckoned the right of enjoying and defending their lives and liberties; that of acquiring, possessing, and protecting property; in fine, that of seeking and obtaining their safety and happiness.”
In 2020, the Massachusetts Senate unanimously adopted a resolution to recognize July 8 as Massachusetts Emancipation Day aka Quock Walker Day.
In 2021, State Senator Cindy Friedman filed SD.141 and State Representative Michelle Ciccolo filed HD.272, An Act designating July 8 as Massachusetts Emancipation Day a.k.a. Quock Walker Day.
To commemorate Quock Walker Day this year, the Association of Black Citizens of Lexington (ABCL) will host a multi-speaker presentation about this event and how its legacy is still felt today. Learn more about Walker’s life and legacy, the Akan people of Ghana, and the movement to officially recognize Massachusetts Emancipation Day.
Featured topics and speakers will include:
- Why Quock Walker Day – Phillip James, History Department Coordinator, Lincoln-Sudbury Regional High School
- Agency and Quock Walker’s Journey to Freedom (How Entrepreneurship and Hutzpah Allowed Quock Walker and his Siblings to Escape the Condition of No Longer Enslaved but Still Not Free) – Zine Magubane, Ph.D., Professor of Sociology, Boston College
- The Akan Diaspora in Massachusetts – Kerima Lewis, Ph.D., Affiliated Faculty, Emerson College
- Ongoing Akan & Ewe Ethnic Group Connections to Massachusetts – Barfuor Adjei-Barwuah, Ph.D., Ambassador of Ghana to the United States of America
- Traditional Akan & Ewe Ethnic Group Leadership – Osabarima Owusu Baafi Aboagye III, Chief of Akyem Dwenase, Akyem Abuakwa State, Ghana and appointed member to the Judicial Committee of Akyem Abuakwa Traditional Council in Ghana
- Visiting the Quock Walker Family Historical Sites – Leslie P. Choquette, Ph.D., Professor of History, Assumption College
- Next Steps to Making Quock Walker Day Legislation Law – Cindy F. Friedman, State Senator of 4th Middlesex
Hosted by the Association of Black Citizens of Lexington, co-sponsored by Lexington Historical Society and Five Fields Real Estate – COMPASS.
No registration required; please click here to join the event (password 757211)