Monday, May 13, 2024 5:30p -

Old State House
206 Washington St
Boston, MA 02109

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joyraft.host13107 Revolutionary Spaces

Art, History, Lectures & Conferences, Outside

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For the first time, the eloquent petitions of disenfranchised people seeking their rights in the 17th and 18th centuries will be read from the balcony where the Declaration of Independence was first read in Boston in 1776.

It’s easy to get discouraged about our ability to achieve change in civic life these days. To reignite your belief in civic progress, Revolutionary Spaces has invited award-winning spoken word artist Amanda Shea to curate an event at the Old State House. Join us for All the Voices in the House, which will remind us how we stand on the shoulders of so many prior generations who took civic leaps and lifted their voices, even as they faced challenges that seemed daunting and likely had long odds of success.

While the vast majority of people living in the commonwealth in the 17th and 18th centuries lacked the right to vote, many used the right to petition the government for change. By believing that their voices mattered, they helped lay the groundwork for the rights and privileges we have today. To honor these individuals and inspire all of us to get more civically engaged, Shea and dynamic spoken word artists Anita D. and D. Ruff will read and reinterpret powerful petitions that were presented by people of varying backgrounds during this time period at the Old State House, which was the center of colonial government in Massachusetts. 

For the first time, their petitions will be spoken from the same balcony where the Declaration of Independence was first read in Boston. Some of the petitions include a a 1694 petition from Elizabeth Proctor, one of the victims of the Salem witch trials; a 1777 petition from Prince Hall, an African American abolitionist seeking to end slavery in Massachusetts; a 1783 petition from Belinda Sutton, a formerly enslaved person seeking a pension from the proceeds of her enslaver’s estate; and a 1783 petition from the Mashpee seeking greater sovereignty. The petitions were selected in collaboration with Daniel Carpenter, the Allie S. Freed Professor of Government at Harvard University and author of the award-winning Democracy by Petition: Popular Politics in Transformation, 1790-1870. 

All the Voices in the House will begin at 5:30 pm outside the Old State House, located at the intersection of Congress Street and State Street. In case of rain or inclement weather, the event will be moved to Tuesday, May 14.

This program will be a prequel to Your Voice in This House, which will take place on May 23 at Old South Meeting House. Gather with contemporary activists, historians, and elected officials as they share stories of how they overcame self-doubt and redefined themselves as civic change agents at the local, state, and national levels.

This program is free and open to the public thanks to the generous support of The Lowell Institute. Pre-register now to receive updates about this event!

About the Artists 


Amanda Shea is a two-time Boston Music Award-winning Spoken Word Artist. Shea is an artist, performer, educator, artivist, publicist, host, and curator. She co-founded and curated six iterations of Activating ARTivism, a community festival to amplify POC through art, activism, and resistance. Her work can be found in the Museum of Fine Arts, The Boston Globe, TEDX, TEDXRoxbury, Netflix, Prime Video, BBC News, GBH, and much more. Shea will be releasing her first book, Pieces of Shea, in the spring of 2024. Amanda's work examines her personal life experiences, social justice issues, and healing through trauma utilizing art as the tool.


Anita D. is a spoken word artist from Brockton, Massachusetts. Formally a slam competitor, Anita has been on the San Diego Slam Team as well as the House Slam Team of Boston. She has been a finalist in both the National Poetry Slam and the Individual World Poetry Slam. Her work centers around her personal life experiences and covers topics of generational trauma, mental health, domestic violence, women’s rights, and more. She has been featured on the platforms All Def Poetry and Button Poetry where she was acknowledged twice as “Best of Boston.” 


D. Ruff is a Roxbury-bred spoken word poet, author of "Staying on 94: Tales from a Misguided Soul," Creative Director of Boston Pulse Poetry program, and has been the co-host of the "if you can Feel It, you can Speak It" Open Mic movement for the last 13 years. He has been writing and performing for over 20 years, most recently in the NAACP convention and the Isabella Stewart Gardner production called "Dear Mr. McKeller." Most of his poems stem from personal experiences and his environments and therefore range in topics from black love and heartbreak to inequality and black culture. D. Ruff performs with inspiring passion in hopes that any black body will also want to find a way to express themselves, find that “tribe” and achieve their greatness, with the intention of leaving the cycle of hurt, pain, and negativity right where it was showcased.

About the Advisor


Daniel Carpenter is the Allie S. Freed Professor of Government and Chair of the Department of Government in the Faculty of Arts and Sciences. Professor Carpenter's research on petitioning appears in his book Democracy by Petition: Popular Politics in Transformation, 1790-1870, which was awarded the J. David Greenstone Prize of the American Political Science Association, the Seymour Martin Lipset Prize of the American Political Science Association and the James P. Hanlan Book Award of the New England Historical Association. He graduated from Georgetown University in 1989 with distinction in Honors Government and received his doctorate in political science from the University of Chicago in 1996. He taught previously at Princeton University (1995-1998) and the University of Michigan (1998-2002).

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05/13/2024 17:30:00 05/13/2024 19:30:00 America/New_York All the Voices in the House: Hear My Plea and Know My Truth <p>For the first time, the eloquent petitions of disenfranchised people seeking their rights in the 17th and 18th centuries will be read from the balcony where the Declaration of Independence was f... Old State House, Boston, MA 02109 false MM/DD/YYYY

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