Phillis Wheatley was born in what is present-day Senegal/Gambia around 1753 and kidnapped from West Africa around the age of seven or eight. Within one and a half years of her arriving in Boston she had quickly learned English before moving on to history, literature, and theology. While in her early 20s, Poems on Various Subjects, Religious and Moral by Phillis Wheatley became the first book published by a Black woman in America.
I visited The Legacy Museum, if not the first week, then the second week that it opened. The Legacy Museum was created by the Equal Justice Initiative and is located in Montgomery, Alabama. It’s a few blocks away from The National Memorial for Peace and Justice about a 15-minute or so walk and obviously a shorter distance driving.
I had high expectations for “The Coming” by Daniel Black. Over the past few years, I’ve read several books about slavery and this book caught my eye because of its focus on the Middle Passage. Positive reviews and high ratings praised “The Coming” for capturing the emotions that enslaved Africans might have felt being snatched from their villages, enduring a grueling voyage, and finding themselves traded like chattel in a strange land.
The Book of Negroes (aka Someone Knows My Name) is a great work of historical fiction. The story weaves together the Revolutionary War, the Book of Negroes, migration of Black people to Nova Scotia and Liberia, and the abolitionist movement in London. It’s clear that the author did a lot of research and the historical events provide a rich backdrop for the story.
Homegoing is a work of historical fiction but it’s a good jumping off point for venturing into the history of the Black diaspora. If you’re a fan of Roots, you’d also enjoy Homegoing. I’d especially recommend the book for young adults and adults who are trying to get into reading. The book and chapters are quite short which makes it very easy to pick up the book, read a chapter, and put it down. It’s not the kind of book that requires a lot of focused time.