Jupiter Hammon is considered one of the founders of the African-American literary tradition. Hammon was a poet who would be the first African-American to publish his work in the United States.
In 1760, Hammon published his first poem, “An Evening Thought: Salvation by Christ with Penitential Crienes.” Throughout Hammon"s life, he published several poems and sermons.
Hammon never gained his own freedom but believed in the freedom of others. During the Revolutionary War, Hammon was a member of organizations such as the African Society of New York City. In 1786, Hammon even presented “Address to the Negroes of the State of New York.” In his address, Hammon said, “If we should ever get to Heaven we shall find nobody to reproach us for being black, or for being slaves.” Hammon’s address was printed several times by abolitionist groups such as the Pennsylvania Society for Promoting the Abolition of Slavery.
Abolitionist and writer William Wells Brown is best remembered for Narrative William W. Brown, a Fugitive Slave, Written by Himself which was published in 1947.
As a result of the Fugitive Slave Law of 1850, Brown fled the United States and lived abroad. Brown continued write and speak on the abolitionist circuit. In 1853, he published his first novel, Clotel, or, The President"s Daughter: A Narrative of Slave Life in the United States. Clotel, which followed the life of a mixed-raced slave working in the home of Thomas Jefferson, is considered the first novel published by an African-American.
Using poetic styles developed by John Keats and William Wordsworth, Countee Cullen wrote lyrical poetry and explored themes such as alienation, racial pride and self identity.
In 1925 the Harlem Renaissance was in full swing. Cullen was a young poet who had published his first collection of poetry entitled, Color. Considered a success, Alain Leroy Locke proclaimed that Cullen was "A genius!" and that his poetry collection "transcends all of the limiting qualifications that might