Phillis Wheatley

During a time when black people were discouraged from learning how to read and write, Phillis Wheatley, a Senegal/Gambia-born black girl who was kidnapped and sold into slavery, defied them all and published a book of poetry. She’s not only the first African-American to have a work of poems published, but also one of the first women to do so. Phillis Wheatley was emancipated soon after the publication of her book. She is now memorialized at Boston Women’s Memorial and Wheatley Hall is named in her honor at UMASS Boston.