Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Phillis Wheatley

Taking a break from the politics of Black History. I will return, however, to the history after I've taken the time to honor some of those African Americans who enriched our culture and fought for their freedom.

Phillis Wheatley was sold into slavery at the age of 7 and was treated as one of the family of John and Susannah Wheatley. They taught her to read the Bible and to write. She learned quickly and soon began to make up rhymes.

At 16 Phillis wrote a poem entitled “On the Death of Mr. George Whitefield.” This poem won her international attention and was published in England and America.

Phillis wrote many poems to encourage the patriots before and during the Revolution, even sending “To His Excellency George Washington” to General Washington. He replied to her and invited her to visit him – which she did.

As the first African American woman to publish a book, we remember her for Poems on Various Subjects Religious and Moral and being the first African American woman to earn a living by writing.

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At 7:26 PM, Anonymous Jim Rapp said...

Thanks for this piece, Sheila. I went out and read some of her poems. I think the website below lists all of her poems:

She obvious was allowed by her masters to read widely and had a very retentive and bright mind. It is so sad that our history includes slavery but it is also amazing how much beauty and inspiration came from the slaves who refused to be dehumanized by it.


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