ALBERY ALLSON WHITMAN was born a slave in Hart County, Kentucky in 1851, and went on to become the finest Black poet of his era. At one time he was considered the "Poet Laureate of the Negro Race.
When slavery ended in 1865,Whitman, whose parents died before emancipation, was orphaned. He was 14 years old.
He worked in various trades: at a plow shop, railroad construction, and as a school teacher. Although he had very little schooling, Whitman published his first volume of poetry in 1870. At about the same time, he also entered Wilberforce University in Ohio.
After 6 months at the school, Whitman went on to become a pastor under the guidance of Bishop Daniel Payne, who was one of the founders of the university in 1856, and in 1863, after the AME church bought the school, he became the first Black president of a college in the United States.
Although never formally ordained, in 1877 , at the age of 26, Whitman became pastor of an AME church in Springfield,Ohio. From 1879-83 he established churches and led congregations in Ohio, Kansas, Texas, and Georgia. During those years, his poetry was highly praised by critics and other poets as well.
He died of pneumonia in 1901.
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