June Jordan Speech Summary

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When the Wheatley Family bought one of their many slaves, Phillis Wheatley, in 1761, the colonies in America had begun the fight for freedom from the English, while also taking away freedom from thousands of Africans brought over as slaves. Nearly three hundred years later, in 2002, June Jordan’s speech, “The Difficult Miracle of Black Poetry in America” was published in her book published post-mortem. June Jordan was an advocate of human-rights and a well published black author, which made her popular among black poets and peers. Through a single symbol, the first Black poet, Phillis Wheatley, Jordan establishes how Black poetry and the Black community have persevered.
Jordan begins her speech by introducing Phillis Wheatley and her brilliance despite slavery. Phillis Wheatley was brought to the U.S. and became a poet; her black, american poetry “was not natural. And she was the first” (Jordan). Jordan repeats this idea throughout her speech, constantly reminding the audience of two things: Phillis Wheatley’s existence in the U.S. was unnatural, and yet she was the first black poet. Phillis Wheatley was sold into slavery but learned English and wrote amazing poems. Jordan’s repetition of antithesis- opposing ideas of oppression and success- establishes establishes that Phillis Wheatley overcame great lengths to be successful. Immediately after introducing the miraculous Wheatley, Jordan invited the reader to imagine having to “Come to a country to be docile and dumb, to

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