In this comprehensive volume of the collected writings of James
Monroe Whitfield (1822-71), Robert S. Levine and Ivy G. Wilson
restore this African American poet, abolitionist, and intellectual
to his rightful place in the arts and politics of the
nineteenth-century United States.
Whitfield's works, including poems from his celebrated America
and Other Poems
(1853), were printed in influential journals
and newspapers, such as Frederick Douglass's The North Star
A champion of the black emigration movement during the 1850s,
Whitfield was embraced by African Americans as a black nationalist
bard when he moved from his longtime home in Buffalo, New York, to
California in the early 1860s. However, by the beginning of the
twentieth century, his reputation had faded.
For this volume, Levine and Wilson gathered and annotated all of
Whitfield's extant writings, both poetry and prose, and many pieces
are reprinted here for the first time since their original
publication. In their thorough introduction, the editors situate
Whitfield in relation to key debates on black nationalism in
African American culture, underscoring the importance of poetry and
periodical culture to black writing during the period.