Through the acting skills of Dr. Daisy Century, Neumann students, faculty, and staff can meet Phillis Wheatley, a slave who became an American poet, on Thursday, February 10. Century will portray Wheatley in a FREE program entitled The Life of Phillis Wheatley: Literary Genius at 1:30 p.m. in the Meagher Theatre.
Wheatley (c. 1753-1784), a young slave girl, lived in the Boston area during the Revolutionary War. Brought to America from Cambia, Africa, she was purchased by the wealthy Wheatley family as a playmate for their children.
Eager to learn, she successfully mastered English, Latin, and Greek. She studied the works of Pope, Virgil, Homer, and Ovid and began to write poetry with themes based on everyday events and broader national issues — from weddings and deaths to freedom and independence.
The publication in London of her Poems on Various Subjects, Religious and Moral, on September 1, 1773, brought her fame both in England and the American colonies.
According to the Poetry Foundation, “Her name was a household word among literate colonists and her achievements a catalyst for the fledgling antislavery movement.” General George Washington met her and admired her work. She is known as the first African American woman to publish a book of poetry in America.
Daisy Century is an actor, speaker, author, and radio talk show host. She is also a middle school science teacher and holds BS, MEd, and EdD degrees.
As an actor, she has appeared in lead roles in independent movies and as an extra in Beloved, Sixth Sense, Trading Lanes, and Twelve Monkeys.
Century has traveled across the country, portraying historical characters, including Sojourner Truth, Harriet Tubman, Mary Fields, Phillis Wheatley, and Bessie Coleman.
Admission is free for Neumann students, faculty, and staff. Masks are required for the audience.
The event is sponsored by the Cultural Arts Forum at Neumann. Proceeds benefit the Dr. Margaret Mary Kearney student scholarship fund, which assists non-traditional students at the university.
Throughout the month of February, the DEI webpage features videos, poetry, music, and more from Black professionals to celebrate Black History Month. view the webpage.