Saturday, February 12, 2011
Ann Plato was born on August 11, 1820 in Hartford, Connecticut. Like many blacks born at this time there was very little recorded information about her. The way that her life was recorded was what she is known for now.
Plato was the first black woman to publish a book of essays and one of the first black women to publish a book in America. Her introduction to her biography written by Reverend W.C. Pennington seems to have the only known information of her life in it. Plato was said to have a Native American father and a Black mother. In her early career days, she worked as a schoolteacher at the Black Zion Methodist Church School of Hartford.
In 1841, her book of essays was published titled Essays: Including Biographies and Miscellaneous Pieces in Prose and Poetry. The collection of essays was a reflection on her community’s puritan views. Topics for the essays included “Benevolence”, “Education”, “Employment”, and “Religion”. Her work has been critiqued as unoriginal and has been put down for not mentioning the issue of American slavery.
Her time after writing this book, including her death, is unknown. She has since been remembered in a couple different ways. In 1988, Oxford Press as part of a library celebrating black women writers republished her book. Also, that year, Trinity College established the Ann Plato Fellowship in her honor.
Plato opened the door to not only women getting a voice, but African American women being able to develop as writers as well.