Happy Anniversary Miranda!!! Miranda, our Director of Community Relations has actually been a part of AIN for over 6 years starting out as an intern and volunteer. Today we celebrate her official anniversary. Thanks, Miranda Grant for all the energy and enthusiasm you bring to AIN! ... See MoreSee Less
Our final Black History Month post salutes Amada Gorman, 2017 Youth Poet Laureate, who came to our attention at last month's Presidential Inauguration and Phillis Wheatley, the first African American to publish a book of poems.
Phillis, named for the ship she arrived on, was born around 1753, captured by slave traders, brought to Boston with slaves unsuited for rigorous work, and purchased by Susanna Wheatley.
The Wheatleys did not excuse her from work but they taught her to read and write. Soon she was versed in the Bible, astronomy, geography, history, British literature as well as Greek and Latin classics. Her first poem was printed in 1767 when she was just 13 years old. By the time she was 18, she had a collection of 28 poems. Colonists would not support literature by an African so she and the Wheatleys turned to London. In 1773, Poems on Various Subjects, Religious and Moral was published, the first volume of poetry by an African American. Her book would not be published in America until 1786, two years after her death. She was freed in 1774, shortly before the deaths of her owners/benefactors. Economic conditions for free blacks were difficult so she ended up as a charwoman before dying alone in poverty.
More than one-third of her poems are elegies, others are celebrations of America. She supported the patriots during the Revolution, but believed slavery prevented colonists from true heroism. She was the first to address this nation as “Columbia.” Britannia owns her Independent Reign,/ Hibernia, Scotia, and the Realms of Spain;/ And Great Germania’s ample Coast admires/ The generous Spirit that Columbia fires./ Auspicious Heaven shall fill with fav’ring Gales,/ Where e’er Columbia spreads her swelling Sails:/ To every Realm shall Peace her Charms display,/ And Heavenly Freedom spread her gold Ray.
Critics felt she didn’t adequately address slavery, but in her best known poem, On Being Brought from Africa to America, she admonished the evangelicals of the Great Awakening…Some view our sable race with scornful eye,/ "Their colour is a diabolic die."/ Remember, Christians, Negros, black as Cain,/ May be refin'd, and join th' angelic train. ... See MoreSee Less