Tuesday, May 8, 2018

Phillis Wheatley's birthday?


From the Smithsonian:


Folks are tweeting that today is Phillis Wheatley's birthday. We can't confirm, but we do know that our 1773 edition of her collection of poems is the only edition published during her lifetime! Learn more on our Adopt-a-Book page: https://s.si.edu/2IlETX6

Maybe born on May 8th in West Africa (Senegal?) , Wheatley became the first African-American woman, the first U.S. slave and the first woman to publish a book of poetry in the colonies in 1773. Brought as a slave to the colonies around the age of seven, her intelligence attracted the attention of her owners who had her educated and saw that her first poems were published when she was only 13. She battled ill health all her life. Although she was eventually freed and married a freeman, she died around the age of 30. 

"Wheatley was the abolitionists’ illustrative testimony that blacks could be both artistic and intellectual. Her name was a household word among literate colonists and her achievements a catalyst for the fledgling antislavery movement."

She did speak out against slavery in a way that would reach the religious and influential people of her time. 

..."these bold lines in her poetic eulogy to General David Wooster castigate patriots who confess Christianity yet oppress her people:"
But how presumptuous shall we hope to find
Divine acceptance with the Almighty mind
While yet o deed ungenerous they disgrace
And hold in bondage Afric: blameless race
Let virtue reign and then accord our prayers
Be victory ours and generous freedom theirs.."

1 comment:

Carla Ives said...

I had never even heard of her. For the time she lived in and who she was, that's quite a list of accomplishments! She sounds like an amazing woman. It's sad she was gone so young. I'm going to have to look up some of her poetry.