Thursday, February 7, 2013

Black History month: Celebrating our Pioneers!

                     Phillis Wheatley 1753-1784

Phillis Wheatley was one of the first "African-American" poets and women to have her work published. At the age of 7 she was taken from Africa and brought to America where she was sold into slavery. Phillis Wheatley lived a life more fortunate than other slaves; shortly after her arrival to the U.S. she learned English and spoke so eloquently it astonished others  

Phillis Wheatley was allowed by her owners the Wheatley's to study Latin and English Literature, this literary exposure allowed her to develop into a great writer! 

"Phillis's place was designated by her white world, and she was virtually cut off from her own people, but she was definitely still a slave, although a privileged one. Though superior to most in her intellectual and literary accomplishments, she was clearly never their social equal."-vcu

"On Being Brought from Africa to America" by Phillis Wheatley
Twas mercy brought me from my Pagan land,
Taught my benighted soul to understand
That there's a God, that there's a Saviour too:
Once I redemption neither sought nor knew.
Some view our sable race with scornful eye,
"Their colour is a diabolic dye."
Remember, Christians, Negroes, black as Cain,
May be refin'd, and join th' angelic train.

This is one of the many controversial pieces written by the once enslaved poet, who seemed to praise slavery because it led her to Christianity. Despite the critical debate about the writer's loyalty and literary content... Phillis Wheatley was an astonishing African writer who paved the way for other minority writers.

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