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Black History and Blacks in U.S. History
Colonial America (1492-1776)
Black Literature Leaders

Black Literature Leaders
Reading Level
     edHelper's suggested reading level:   grades 4 to 5
     Flesch-Kincaid grade level:   5.6

     challenging words:    slave, devout, unjust, capacity, wealthy, slavery, scornful, newly, dealt, colonial, directly, impressive, writing, mankind, uneducated, gain
     content words:    Long Island, New York, Jupiter Hammon, When Jupiter, Evening Thought, Penitential Cries, Christmas Day, Miss Phillis Wheatly, Winter Piece, United States

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Black Literature Leaders
By Jane Runyon

1     Many slave owners in colonial times believed in keeping their slaves uneducated. It was their belief that it was a waste of time to teach these newly arrived Africans how to read or write. They had no capacity to learn, anyway.
2     Some slave owners taught their slaves basic reading skills. It was their belief that they could turn these "heathens" into Christians. They wanted their "property" to be able to read the Bible. This was the way to their salvation. It would also civilize them.
3     Fortunately, there were slave owners with a much more open point of view. They believed that slaves could and should be educated. The Lloyd family of Long Island, New York, was one such family. Jupiter Hammon was born around 1711. He was sold to the Lloyd family as a very young boy. Jupiter was a slave for four generations of the Lloyd family. They sent Jupiter to school to learn to read and write.
4     Jupiter had much more freedom than many slaves. He could tend his own garden and sell the produce for spending money. When Jupiter was twenty-two, he purchased his own Bible from the Lloyd family. He was a devout Christian.
5     Jupiter Hammon learned quickly. He loved to read, and he loved to write. His writing shows his deeply religious belief. The first published poem was named "An Evening Thought, Salvation by Christ with Penitential Cries." The word "penitential" used here has to do with asking forgiveness. That's quite an impressive title for someone who many thought could not be educated. This piece was published on Christmas Day of 1760. Two of his later pieces were called "An Address to Miss Phillis Wheatly" and "A Winter Piece."

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Black History and Blacks in U.S. History
             Black History and Blacks in U.S. History

Colonial America (1492-1776)
             Colonial America (1492-1776)

United States
             United States

    American Government  
    Black History and Blacks in U.S. History  
    Children in History  
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United States History
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    After the Civil War
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    Colonial America (1492-1776)  
    Lewis and Clark
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    Spanish American War (1898)  
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50 States

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