The Black Mothers of America
By Dr. Dhanpaul Narine
…No more, America, in mournful strain Of wrongs, and grievances and unredress’d. No longer shall thou dread the iron chain Which wanton Tyranny with lawless hand Had made, and with it meant t’enslave the land. – Phillis Wheatley 1772
We hear a great deal about the founding fathers of America. But how about the Black mothers of America and the role they played in shaping the destiny of the nation? Phillis Wheatley’s verses lamented the institution of slavery in America. Wheatley was an accomplished poet who wrote her memoirs and published a number of poems on a variety of subjects.
Her history is most interesting. Wheatley was born in Senegal and was captured and taken to the shores of America when she was seven years old. She was purchased by John Wheatley as a gift to his wife and they gave her the ‘Wheatley’ title.
It was observed that the young lady was talented and she was encouraged to read and to write. Wheatley received lessons in the classics and she wrote her first poem at thirteen. In 1773 she published her book of poems and created a number of records.
She was the first slave in America to publish a book of poems and only the third woman to do so at the time. In 1776 Wheatley accepted an invitation to visit George Washington and she read a poem that she had written for him. Wheatley even traveled to London to publicize her poems.
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