Hi my loves!
We’ve made it to the end of the year! I cannot believe the year has flown by this fast. My birthday is also coming up so that’s always a plus!
I’ve been reflecting over the year and how this year has been for me and it’s truly been a blessing. I have learned and grown so much and I have gained a new level of appreciation for the trials and triumphs I’ve experienced this year alone.
I’m extremely appreciative of everyone who has told me they learned something from my specials focusing on African American history. I want to end the year in the same pattern and focus on two figures in our history that I’m appreciative of.
Jupiter Hammon and Phillis Wheatley are two of the very first African American writers whose work was published. I’ll begin with Jupiter Hammon.
Jupiter Hammon was the very first African American writer to be published in the present day United States in 1761. He is considered the to be the founder of African American literature. Jupiter Hammond was born into slavery in 1711 in Lloyd Manor in Lloyd Harbor, New York. His parents were part of the first shipment of slaves to the Lloyd Estate in 1687. His father, however, learned to read and write which was very uncommon for most slaves. The Lloyd Family encouraged Jupiter to attend school and learn to read and write along with the Lloyd children.
As an adult, he worked (as a slave) as a servant, clerk, and farmhand among other things. He also worked (as a slave) alongside Henry Lloyd, the father, in negotiating deals for his businesses. Jupiter was known to be very efficient and intelligent. He was a devout Christian and many of his writing were influenced by his beliefs.
His first published poem “An Evening Thought. Salvation by Christ with Penitential Cries” the 25th of December 1760.
His next published work appeared eighteen years later called “An Address to Phillis Wheatley.” Interestingly, he believed that Wheatley had succumbed to pagan influences in her writing. He thought his poem would compel Wheatley to return to a Christian path in life.
Jupiter is most notably known for his 1787 essay “An Address To The Negroes of the State of New York.” One line that stands out from the essay states:
“If we should ever get to Heaven, we shall find nobody to reproach us for being black, or being slaves.”
Unfortunately, Jupiter was never emancipated and he died around 1806 where he was buried in an unmarked grave on the Lloyd property.
Although Jupiter was the first African American writer to be published, Phillis Wheatley was the first African American to publish a book of poems. Phillis was one of the best-known poets in eighteenth century America. Her name has become a household name among several African American writers.
Phillis was captured from her home in West Africa when she was about seven or eight years of age. John Wheatley purchased her, as a gift for Mrs. Wheatley. Even though her health wasn’t up to par, her intelligence was unmatched. She began to learn and speak English and Latin in addition to fluently reading the Bible, all by the age of nine.
She began writing poetry at the age of thirteen and her poem “On the death of Rev. Mr. George Whitefield,” was published broadside on cities such as Boston, New York, and Philadelphia. She gained national attention and over the next years, she worked on releasing her book of poetry.
Phillis and Mrs. Wheatley ran advertisements for subscribers to publish her book. Unfortunately, many colonists in the states refused to support literature from an African so they turned their focus to London for a publisher. With the Wheatleys connections in London, Phillis was able to travel to London with the Wheatley’s son, Nathaniel and get her book of poems published. Her first volume of poetry titled “Poems on Various Subjects, Religious and Moral” was published in 1773.
Shortly after her journey, it was said that Phillis was released from slavery around 1774. In that same year, Mrs. Wheatley had passed. A few years after that, John Wheatley and his daughter Mary died around 1778. Nathaniel, the son of the Wheatleys’, died in London in 1783.
Phillis was left to support herself after the Wheatleys had passed away. Later on, she married John Peters, a free black man who own a grocery store while dabbling in a few other entrepreneurial endeavors. Life became very tough during the Revolutionary War so they decided to move northeast to Wilmington, Massachusetts to avoid fighting in the war.
Economic conditions were very harsh during the war and even worse for free blacks that could not compete with white in the job market. The couple returned to Boston and stayed with one of the Wheatleys’ nieces for a short time. John Peters moved them to a very rundown apartment in an undesirable neighborhood in Boston. Even though things were hard, Phillis continued to write her poetry. Unfortunately Americans still would not support her poetry. She was only able to publish a few poems.
Sadly, Phillis died around 1784 and many of her volumes of poetry have never been recovered. It has been said that she may have written 145 poems before her death.
These two amazing writers have opened the door for many African American writers. To be able to write this post without the obstacles of someone controlling who sees this is a blessing. I am very appreciative of Jupiter and Phillis.
I want to pass on my appreciation to every single one of you and offer 20% off of ANY haircut for the month of December. This includes my curly haircuts, precision haircuts and trims. This special must be booked with a style of your choice. Use the hashtag #CARIJAYYAPPRECIATES in the notes section when you secure your appointment. I appreciate every single person that has supported me throughout the year. I’m forever humbled.
“But He gives more grace. Therefore He says, God resists the proud,
But gives grace to the humble.” -NKJV