Taken from her home in West Africa and sold as a slave in America when she was about 7 years old, Phillis Wheatley grew up to be the first published African American poet.
Phillis Wheatley was given the name of the boat she arrived on as her first name, and the surname of the family who bought her. Most slaves at the time were illiterate, but the Wheatley’s taught Phillis how to read and write and gave her a classical education.
Despite being one of America’s most famous poets at the time, she gained little popularity with American audiences due to the color of her skin. She instead found fame overseas, in London.
The poems of Phillis Wheatley helped the Abolition movement gain momentum by providing clear proof that skin color had no effect on a person’s artistic or intellectual abilities. Education does.
“Phillis Wheatley.” Poetry Foundation, Poetry Foundation, www.poetryfoundation.org/poets/phillis-wheatley.