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Black History Spotlight: Phillis Wheatly-The First Black American To Publish A Book Of Poetry β€πŸ–€πŸ’š

By: Leon Kwasi Kuntuo-Asare

Early Life

Phillis Wheatley is believed to of been born in 1753, in West Africa, most likely in Senegal or Gambia. At around the age of 7 or 8, some historians say she was likely sold by a local African chief to a slave trader, who brought her to the British colony of Massachusetts. She was eventually resold to John Wheatley, who was a successful businessman, who bought her to be a servant girl for his wife, Sussana. The Wheatley family gave her their surname of Wheatley (which was common during the time-period if the slave was given a surname), and then the now-Wheatley was given the name Phillis by her new owners. For the very racist time-period, the Wheatley’s were very progressive for thar era, especially the family patriarch, John, who instructed his children Mary and Nathaniel to give her an education in reading and writing. At the age of 12, Phillis Wheatley was able to read the bible, classical Latin and Greek literature.

The Published Poet

At the age of 14-years-old, Phillis Wheatley was so gifted in her writings that her slave owner’s the Wheatley family decided that that she should focus on her writing, instead of domestic work, which they left to the other slaves. Her first poem was “To the University of Cambridge, in New England”. In 1773, she traveled to London, England with the Wheatley’s son, Nathaniel, because the Wheatleys believed she would have a far-better chance of getting her book of poetry published in the United Kingdom (than she would have in America). While in England, Phillis Wheatley met several members of Britain’s high society, which included the Lord Mayor of London. One of the people interested in the works of Phillis Wheatley, was Selina Hastings, countess of Huntingdon. She used her influence to help Phillis Wheatley get her volume of poetry published, and she served as a patron of Phillis Wheatley’s written works.

Wheatley’s Poem on Slavery, and her relationship with her former masters who raised, educated and treated her relatively well:

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.

Later In Life

In November of 1773, after her book of poetry was published, the Wheatley family gave Phillis her freedom. As a now free Black woman, she would go on to marry a free Black man named John Peters, who was a grocer. The new couple suffered through a lot of unfortunate heartache and misery, which included poverty and living in extremely harsh conditions, and most devastating, the death of two babies. In 1775, Wheatley sent a copy of one of her poems to the then-general George Washington. The poem was titled “To His Excellency, George Washington”. Washington was so impressed that he invited Wheatley to meet him at his headquarters in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Wheatley would take him up on his offer, and met him on March in 1776. Later in that year, the political activist, philosopher, political theorist and revolutionary, Thomas Paine, republished the poem in the Pennsylvania Gazette. In 1779, Wheatley submitted her proposal for a second volume poetry, but because of her financial situation and the loss of her former supporters since emancipation, she was unable to get a full book of poetry published. However, she was able to get several of the poems that were intended for her second book, published in several pamphlets and newspapers. In 1784, financial struggles would cause her husband to be arrested and placed in debtors prison. To make ends meet, Wheatley worked as a scullery maid, so that she could take care of herself and her ill-infant son. On December 5, 1784, Wheatley died at the very young age of 31, her sickly son would die a little while afterwards.

Post Death Honors And Legacy

In 2002, Temple University professor and author Molefi Kete Asante placed Wheatley on his list of 100 greatest African-Americans. In 2003, Wheatley along with Abigail Adams and Lucy Stone were featured in a sculpture on Commonwealth Avenue in Boston, Massachusetts. In 2012, a new building for the school of Communications and Information Sciences at Robert Morris University was named in her honor.

For Additional information please use this link!

Leon Kwasi Chronicles Β© 2020

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Slave Owner Statue TakenDown By Protesters

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NOT YOUR SISTERS IN THE STRUGGLE: WHITE WOMEN WERE HUGE FIGURES IN THE ENSLAVEMENT OF BLACK MEN AND WOMEN

By: Leon Kwasi Kuntuo-Asare

A study by a professor at the University of California-Berkeley revealed that White women were not the docile bystanders as my people may of thought, when it came to the business of enslaving Black people.

An associate professor of history at the University named Stephanie E. Jones-Rogers, discovered through her census data research that from the years 1850-1860, White women in the south were about 40% of the slave owners.

According to the BlackStar:

In her book, ” They Were Her Property: White Women as Slave owners in the American South” which is based on her findings as a professor, Jones-Rogers explained that White women’s involvement in slavery comes from family, as their slave-owning parents ” typically have their daughters more enslaved people than land”.

” what this means is that their very identities as southern women are tied to the actual or possible ownership of other people “, she said according to history.com

She would later go on to explain that the ownership of enslaved people of African descent served as White women’s primary source of wealth, and reportedly the larger amount of slaves a White woman owned made her more desirable for marriage by eligible White Male bachelors.

For additional information use the link below:

https://atlantablackstar.com/2019/05/25/research-by-black-female-professor-reveals-startling-truth-that-white-women-made-up-40-of-slaveowners/

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BLACK 🌍 HISTORY SPOTLIGHT : NAT TURNER

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BY: LEON KWASI KUNTUO-ASARE

Nat Turner was born into slavery in Southampton County, Virginia on October 2, 1800.

Turner spent his whole life in Southampton County, Virginia, a area where slaves were the majority of the people living in the area. As a young kid he learned to read and write.

Turner was known to be an extremely religious man, who was known to fast, read the bible and pray. Known as the “Prophet” by fellow slaves, Turner performed baptist religious services for his brethren in bondage. Turner’s faith in the almighty was so intense, that he had visions that he considered to be messages from God, that he was ordained for some kind of holy mission.

Turner would soon start to believe that mission was for him to start a slave rebellion and free his people, like many biblical figures, he read about. Turner believed his rebellion would be the battle between God’s kingdom and the anti-kingdom.

In February 1831, Turner believed that some of the atmospheric conditions occurring at the time to be signs from God, telling him to prepare for rebellion against the slave owning white population.

On the 11th of February 1831, a solar eclipse occurred in Virginia, and Turner envisioned this as a black man reaching over the sun. Turner originally planned for his rebellion to be on the slave owning, white man’s independence of July 4, but illness forced him to delay, so he took the time to do more preparation with his co-conspirators.

On August 13, there was another solar eclipse,Turner believed this to be the final signal and a week later,on August 21, he and his co-conspirators would begin the slave uprising.

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Turner’s first recruits were enslaved blacks from his area, Turner and his rebels went plantation to plantation, freeing enslaved blacks and killing their white masters. Over 70 free blacks would also join Turner’s rebellion. So that they did not alert anyone, the Turner rebels did not use firearms, instead they used blunt objects, knives, axes and hatchets to exterminate their white supremacist oppressors.

Turner’s rebellion killed approximately 60 white people, before a white militia was able to respond to the uprising. With the help of the federal government, the rebellion was quelled in two days.

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Turner would evade capture for two months, by hiding in the woods. On October 30, Turner was discovered hiding in a covered hole, by Benjamin Phipps, a local farmer.

While awaiting trial, Turner would confess his knowledge of the slave uprising to his attorney Thomas Ruffin Gray.

On November 5, 1831 Turner was put on trial and convicted of “Conspiring to rebel and making insurrection “, he would be given the death sentence.

On November 11, in Jerusalem, Virginia, Turner would be skinned, beheaded and chopped up in many pieces, he would receive no formal burial. Many of his co-conspirators would receive a similar fate. In the end approximately 60 white people would die and 200 black people.

WATCH MINI BIOGRAPHY ON NAT TURNER :

FOR ADDITIONAL INFORMATION USE LINK BELOW :

http://www.biography.com/people/nat-turner-9512211

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nat_Turner