Phillis Wheatley

In 1773, Phillis Wheatley was freed from slavery and became the first African American to publish a book of poetry. She was bought by John and Susanna Wheatley in 1761. Recognizing her intellectual abilities, they encouraged Phillis to study classical literature, theology and the Bible.

By age 12, she could read Greek and Latin and understood “complex” biblical passages in those languages. Her poetry was published in 1773, titled Poems on Various Subjects, Religious and Moral. She often applied biblical symbolism to comment on slavery. In her best-known poem, On Being Brought From Africa to America, she chides her Christian readers and references Cain from the book of Genesis, writing: “Remember, Christian, Negroes, black as Cain, may be refin’d and join th’ angelic train.”

Share

More Book Minute Features

August 03, 2020

Presidential Birthdays -

Five former US presidents have birthdays in August, with the oldest being Benjamin Harrison, followed by Herbert Hoover, Lyndon Johnson, Bill Clinton...
July 27, 2020

Isaac Watts: The Father of English Hymnody

Born July 27, 1674, in Southhampton, England, Isaac Watts became one of the world’s most prolific hymn writers. The eldest of nine children, Isaac sha...
July 20, 2020

U.S. Historic Sites and the Bible -

A close look at the walls, floors, and ceilings throughout our nation’s capital reveals a heritage of biblical impact and influence! On the ceilin...