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.