Published online by Cambridge University Press: 01 April 2022
Between 1750 and 1800, writers of African descent drew on oral and written traditions to create literature that expressed their desires for freedom, equality, and a future for themselves and their children. Moved and shaped by transitional events ranging from the forced migration of millions of Africans to enslavement in the Americas to revolutions that shook and transformed the British colonies, Saint-Domingue, and France, they developed cultural productions that articulated their longings, supported their communities, and impacted the rapidly shifting sociopolitical environments in which they lived. Like Phillis Wheatley, who publicly declared her impatience of oppression in a letter to Rev. Samson Occum on the eve of the American Revolution, they were compelled to resist enslavement, choose their own racial affiliations, and assert their agency by writing themselves into the metanarratives that marginalized or omitted them.