Phillis Wheatley and the struggle of African American women

Phillis Wheatley and the struggle of African American women

Slavery marked a before and after in the history of the United States. Although the fight for the abolition of slavery had international repercussions, it is no less true that for the United States it was a turning point in a strict society "traditionalist”And marked cultural complexes.

The black collective had to live in an unjust society, where those people were seen as mere merchandise, where color was what made the difference between one and the other, between men and "things."

It is sad for a nation to remember certain moments in its history, events for which its current citizens are not responsible, but which, even with everything, their memory continues to weigh heavily on their heads.

Like Germany was the epicenter of the Nazi holocaust or Spain one of many other countries that were once dedicated to colonization and plunder, United States, despite being a pioneer in fight against slavery, It was also one of the toughest societies for the black community. Even centuries after the abolition of slavery, African Americans were treated as second-class citizens, vetoed many of the rights that common white citizens possessed.

In the fight for equalityBoth before and after slavery, there are great names of men and women who did not accept injustice and fought hard (leaving their life in it) to achieve the respect that, as people, corresponded to them.

Today we want to pay tribute in some way, to one of the first women who spoke out against injustice, Phillis Wheatley, who sang the first lyrical song out of respect for human integrity, regardless of skin color.

Born in Senegal in 1753 Philis was captured in her earliest childhood, when she was only seven years old. Subjected to slavery, she traveled to the United States along with other captives, in the direction of the Boston slave market.

As fate would have it, that woman was bought by a marriage of judicious merchants, the Wheatleys, who soon understood that this girl had great intelligence and that his destiny was not in the harsh cotton fields.

Thus, they ensured that the girl received a good education, including studies of Latin, Greek, mythology and history. Soon his education and skill paid off and Phillis saw his first poem published in 1767 at the age of 13, on the Newport Mercury. This lyrical work was followed by others and the young woman grew in popularity and recognition.

His poetry was admired by many of the prevailing figures of the American Revolution, such as that of George Washington, who referred to her by her «great poetic genius»And thanked him personally for a poem he wrote in his honor. Nevertheless, Phillis was still a “simple slave”For many, who believed that it was impossible for a black slave to have such understanding and sensitivity. After all, blacks had no souls, as many of the followers of Thomas Jefferson, one of its biggest critics.

Because of this, in 1772 Wheatley had to defend his literary ability in court. She was examined by a group of Boston intellectuals, including John Erving, the Reverend Charles Chauncey, John Hancock, Thomas Hutchinson, the Governor of Massachusetts, and his Lieutenant Governor Andrew Oliver. They concluded that, she was the author of the poems attached to her person and they signed a certificate that was published in the preface to his book Poems on Various Subjects, Religious and Moral, edited at Aldgate, London in 1773.

This event was the first recognition in the history of the United States of intellectual equality between whites and blacks.. A fact that seems insignificant in our days, but that at the time was a revelation, and the spark that originated a multitude of demands that asked for nothing more than something that fell by its own weight, the recognition of the same rights that, as person, it was theirs.

African-Americans still had to endure many decades of oppression and constant struggle to achieve equality, living really hard times, since the end of slavery did not mean the end of hostilities, but the beginning of the foundation of the great barriers of racism and social exclusion, but Phillis Wheatley's voice did not and will not fail to motivate the hearts of men.

Here we leave you some of the Phillies Wheatley works (in English).

Video: Phillis Wheatley Black History