In 1761, a young African girl was sold to the Wheatley family in
Boston, who named her Phillis after the slave schooner that had
carried her. Kidnapped from her home in Africa and shipped to
America, she'd had everything taken from her family, her name, and
her language. But Phillis Wheatley was no ordinary young girl. She
had a passion to learn, and the Wheatleys encouraged her, breaking
with unwritten rule in New England to keep slaves illiterate. Amid
the tumult of the Revolutionary War, Phillis Wheatley ultimately
had a book of verse published, established herself as the first
African American woman poet this country had ever known. She also
found what had been taken away from her and from slaves everywhere:
a voice of her own.
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