The color line: James Monroe Whitfield and Albery Allson Whitman

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

4 Scopus citations


Let no man who loves the Negro race then decry poetry, for it is by this and other proofs of genius that our race will be enabled to take its place among the nations of the earth. Katherine Tillman In her 1897 review of “Afro-American Poets and Their Verse,” Katherine Tillman, writing for the African Methodist Episcopal Church Review, notes that Albery Allson Whitman was one of a growing number of writers whose increasing presence in the arts marked the increasing progress of the race. Whitman's “The Freedman's Triumphant Song,” Tillman commented, abounded in “graceful metaphors” and contained “an easy flow of words.” Tillman's praise for Whitman was as much about his particular versification as it was with his having delivered the poem at the 1893 World's Fair that many African Americans saw as the approach of a new dawn with the fin de siècle. Indeed, linking Whitman with the revered Frances Ellen Watkins Harper and a host of younger writers, Tillman viewed poetry as an index to the race. Joining other prominent African Americans in Chicago, Whitman read “The Freedman's Triumphant Song” at the “Colored American Day” of the World's Columbian Exposition. “The Freedman's Triumphant Song” chronicles the perseverance and loyalty of African Americans to the nation. Like William Cooper Nell's Colored Patriots of the American Revolution (1855) and William Wells Brown's Negro in the American Rebellion: His Heroism and His Fidelity (1867), Whitman references Bunker Hill and Valley Forge to accentuate the bond of African Americans to the country by underlining their military service.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationThe Cambridge Companion to Nineteenth-Century American Poetry
PublisherCambridge University Press
Number of pages17
ISBN (Electronic)9781139028158
ISBN (Print)9780521763691
StatePublished - Jan 1 2011

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Arts and Humanities(all)

Cite this