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Student Discovers Forgotten Poem by America’s First Known Black Writer

A doctoral student at the University of Texas at Arlington has discovered a previously unknown poem by the earliest known African American writer.

Julie McCown was researching Jupiter Hammon – The first known African American writer to be published in the United States – when she stumbled on the poem. It was buried in documents at an archive at Yale University Library in Connecticut.

Historians say the poem offers important and fascinating insight into Hammon’s evolving views on slavery. It dates back to 1786.

From NBC Dallas/Fort Worth:

In the newly discovered poem, Hammon shifts from the ideology he held in previous writings, in which he described slavery as the will of God, to a new line of thinking that says slavery was a manmade evil.

“There’s a big difference in the way that he talks about slavery here than how he talks about slavery in other works,” said May, who said the shift is “a game-changer” in how Hammon’s writing is viewed.

May said such an anti-slavery perspective could have been viewed as too inflammatory at the time.

“I think Jupiter Hammon’s masters thought they were going to keep that out of the public eye and they put [the poem] away,” he said.

Read more at nbcdfw.com

Makes you wonder how many more writings and poems are out there, just waiting to be discovered, doesn’t it?

Thoughts on this story?

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How much more undiscovered writing and poems


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