Black History Month Spotlight: Phillis Wheatley


In honor of Black History Month, Glasgow students celebrate people who have impacted the world in which we live. Spotlight #1 is Phillis Wheatley.

Phillis Wheatley, born in 1753 and living until she was 31, was captured from her home in Africa and brought to the American colonies. She arrived in Boston, Massachusetts when she was only 9 years old and was placed in a group of slaves that were not fit to work on plantations. She was purchased by the Wheatley family to be a personal servant for Susanna Wheatley, the wife of John Wheatley, a well known Boston tailor. The family named her after the ship she was brought on and raised her almost like a third child.

Within 16 months of living with the Wheatley’s, Susanna and her daughter had taught Phillis how to read and write fluent English. Along with English, she learned Greek and Latin. She began writing poetry and was very skilled in it. At the age of 14, she went to England and published her first book. She was the first African American woman to publish a book of poems. After she returned home, she was emancipated (freed from slavery). She died at the age of 31 of childbirth complications. In her life, it is believed she wrote around 145 poems.

Phillis Wheatley is important to the Glasgow community, showing people brought into a difficult life can thrive and make the most out of what they’re given. She inspires students and teachers today with her story, overcoming challenges and rising to the top.