Phillis Wheatley


KIPP Wheatley’s name comes from poet and revolutionist Phillis Wheatley. Slave traders kidnapped Wheatley in Senegal/Gambia when she was about eight years old. She grew up enslaved in Boston. Within a few years she learned to read and write in English, Latin, and Greek despite customs excluding Africans and African Americans from receiving a formal literacy education. She became a published poet by age 13. About a decade later she released a full book of poems, Poems on Various Subjects, Religious and Moral. In doing so Wheatley was the first African, third woman, and person who was enslaved in the U.S. to publish a book of poems.
Phillis Wheatley, image via Library of Congress

Phillis’ extraordinary talent in language arts captured attention and praise from diverse audiences, including Africans and African Americans, London’s social elite, and General George Washington. In reading her work and learning her life story readers discover an intelligent, courageous, driven, compassionate, and optimistic woman who defied all odds against her in making a lasting legacy for centuries to come. Her success despite the systemic oppression against people of color and women underscores the importance of KIPP Wheatley’s dedication to developing readers and writers with a critical consciousness and commitment to social justice.


Download these printable Phillis Wheatley bookmarks to share with your students.

Download this Phillis Wheatley poster to share in your classroom.

Download this Phillis Wheatley fact sheet to learn more about Phillis Wheatley’s life and legacy.