EventsDavid Waldstreicher — The Odyssey of Phillis Wheatley: A Poet's Journeys Through American Slavery and Independence

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David Waldstreicher — The Odyssey of Phillis Wheatley: A Poet's Journeys Through American Slavery and Independence

6:00 PM – 7:00 PM


L’Merchie Frazier, visual activist, public historian and artist, innovator, and poet will moderate a conversation with David Waldstreicher, the author of this paradigm-shattering biography of the celebrated poet Phillis Wheatley, whose extraordinary work set African American literature at the heart of the American Revolution. Following the conversation, there will be time for audience Q&A. Online bookselling will be made possible via Porter Square Books.

About the book

Admired by George Washington, ridiculed by Thomas Jefferson, published in London, and read far and wide, Phillis Wheatley led one of the most extraordinary American lives. Seized in West Africa and forced into slavery as a child, she was sold to a merchant family in Boston, where she became a noted poet at a young age. Mastering the Bible, Greek and Latin translations, and the works of Pope and Milton, she composed elegies for local elites and celebrated political events, adding her voice to a vibrant, multisided conversation about race, slavery, and discontent with British rule. In this new biography, the historian David Waldstreicher offers the fullest account to date of Wheatley’s life and works, correcting myths, reconstructing intimate friendships, and deepening our understanding of her verse and the revolutionary era.

About the author

Credit: Paula Vlodkowksy

David Waldstreicher teaches history at the City University of New York Graduate Center and is the author of Slavery’s Constitution: From Revolution to Ratification and Runaway America: Benjamin Franklin, Slavery, and the American Revolution. He has written for The New York Times Book Review, Boston Review, and The Atlantic, among other publications.

About the moderator

L’Merchie Frazier visual activist, public historian and artist, innovator, poet and holographer, is Executive Director of Creative / Strategic PLANNING for SPOKE Arts / /Medicine Wheel and was formerly Director of Education and Interpretation for the Museum of African American History, Boston/Nantucket. Frazier has served the artistic community for over twenty years as an award winning national and international visual and performance artist and poet, in one life work “Save Me From My Amnesia”, with residencies in Brazil, Taiwan, Costa Rica, Africa, France, and Cuba. Her collected works are in the Smithsonian, the White House, Minneapolis Institute of Art, and the Dallas Museum of Art. Her work supports the dialogues that concern social justice, and restoration, civil and human rights.

This program is part of the American Inspiration Series from American Ancestors/NEHGS and presented in partnership with the Museum of African American History and the GBH Forum Network. Copies of these books will be made available for ordering by Porter Square Books.

Programming like this is enabled through the generosity of a variety of public and private funding. To learn more and support our programming, visit the Boston Public Library Fund website.

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