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American Inspiration Author Series

David Waldstreicher with 'The Odyssey of Phillis Wheatley'

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Date and time
Monday, March 27, 2023
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**A paradigm-shattering biography of the celebrated poet Phillis Wheatley, whose extraordinary work set African American literature at the heart of the American Revolution.** Admired by George Washington, ridiculed by Thomas Jefferson, published in London, and read far and wide, Phillis Wheatley led one of the most extraordinary American lives. Seized in West Africa and forced into slavery as a child, she was sold to a merchant family in Boston, where she became a noted poet at a young age. Mastering the Bible, Greek and Latin translations, and the works of Pope and Milton, she composed elegies for local elites and celebrated political events, adding her voice to a vibrant, multisided conversation about race, slavery, and discontent with British rule. In this new biography, the historian David Waldstreicher offers the fullest account to date of Wheatley’s life and works, correcting myths, reconstructing intimate friendships, and deepening our understanding of her verse and the revolutionary era. **David Waldstreicher** teaches history at the City University of New York Graduate Center and is the author of _Slavery’s Constitution: From Revolution to Ratification and Runaway America: Benjamin Franklin_, _Slavery, and the American Revolution_. He has written for The New York Times Book Review, Boston Review, and The Atlantic, among other publications. **Moderator L’Merchie Frazier** is a visual activist, public historian and artist, innovator, and poet. She is Executive Director of Creative / Strategic PLANNING for SPOKE Arts and former Director of Education and Interpretation for the Museum of African American History, Boston/Nantucket, and was recently named an Art Commissioner for Massachusetts. Presented by the American Inspiration series from American Ancestors/NEHGS in partnership with Boston Public Library, Museum of African American History, and with GBH Forum Network.

David Waldstreicher is a historian of early and nineteenth-century America with particular interests in political history, cultural history, slavery and antislavery, and print culture. He is author of _Slavery's Constitution: From Revolution to Ratification_ (2009); _Runaway America: Benjamin Franklin, Slavery and the American Revolution _(2004); and _In the Midst of Perpetual Fetes: The Making of American Nationalism, 1776-1820_ (1997). As editor, his books include _Revolutions and Reconstructions: Black Politics in the Long Nineteenth Century_ (2020); _the Library of America edition of The Diaries of John Quincy Adams_ (2017); B_eyond the Founders; New Approaches to the Political History of the Early American Republic _(2004); and _The Struggle Against Slavery: A History in Documents_ (2001). His scholarly articles and books have won prizes from the Society for Historians of the Early American Republic, the Omohundro Institute of Early American History and Culture, the, Southeastern American Society for Eighteenth-Century Studies, and the American Jewish Historical Society. He has also written for the Boston Review, Atlantic.com and the New York Times Book Review. Waldstreicher is an elected member of the American Antiquarian Society and the recipient of awards and fellowships from the Dorothy and Lewis B. Cullman Center for Scholars and Writers, New York Public Library; the American Philosophical Society; and the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History, among others. Before coming to the Graduate Center of CUNY, he taught at Temple University, University of Notre Dame, Yale University and Bennington College. Waldstreicher is currently writing a biography, The Odyssey of Phillis Wheatley, under contract to Farrar, Straus and Giroux.
L'Merchie Frazier is a visual and performance artist, educator, consultant, and mother of two sons and one daughter. She is a native of Jacksonville, Florida, but now she is based in Boston and has been active in the New England community for over twenty years; she is a board member of [FabLabs For America](http://www.fablabs4america.org/about-fablabs-for-america/board/lmerchie-frazier/ "L'Merchie Frazier FabLabs4America"). As a visual artist she is best known for her highly skilled hand crafted beaded jewelry, fiber and metal sculptures, and mixed media installations and quilt series, the "Quilted Chronicles." Currently, Frazier is Director of Education at the Museum of African American History. She was formerly Education Director of Arts Are Academic, serving several Boston cultural institutions, including the Museum of the National Center of Afro-American Artists, the Museum of Fine Arts, the Huntington Theater and the Boston Public Schools, where she promoted art literacy for students and teachers across disciplines. She has taught African American Art and Culture at the Boston Community Academy for at-risk students. Frazier teaches courses in cultural diversity; principal teacher of visual and performance art for the Museum of the National Center of Afro-American Artists and workshop instructor for the Fuller Museum of Art in Brockton, MA. Certified as an artist educator by the Kennedy Center Artists as Educators program, she is on the roster of the Massachusetts Cultural Council Directory for Events and Residences; she served on the MCC Folk Arts Review Panel and the First Night 2001 Review Panel. She has also served as director of urban art camps in Greater Boston. Her artwork has appeared in numerous publications, and she has exhibitions of her work in the Museum of African American History, Boston; the Museum of the National Center of Afro-American Artists, Boston; the New England Quilt Museum; Museu Lasar Segall, Brazil; Ain Ping Harbor, Tainan, Taiwan; the American Craft Museum, New York; the Renwick Gallery of the Smithsonian Institute, Washington, DC; and the permanent collection of the White House.

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