Walt Whitman’s Camden 2021

Jun. 7, 2021

Bob Hennelly

Insider NJ

“I can conceive of not better service…than boldly exposing the weakness, liabilities and infinite corruptions of democracy,” wrote Walt Whitman, poet, journalist and one of the City of Camden’s most historically significant residents who died in 1892.

Whitman moved to Camden to his brother’s home after a debilitating stroke in 1873. Considered one of our nation’s most gifted writers, he was an ardent abolitionist and supporter of women’s rights. His optimism on the prospects for a more inclusive American democracy were at odds with his assertions about the superiority of the white race, which continue to spark controversy.

“The charge of racism was particularly fraught because it was levied against Walt Whitman, the poet who in Leaves of Grass sang of American democracy as a project of radical inclusion, the poet who wrote about tending to the runaway slave, the poet who looked upon the enslaved person on the auction block and saw in them their generations of descendants, the poet who declared that the enslaved were the equal of those who enslaved them,” writes Lavelle Porter, is his essay “Should Walt Whitman be Cancelled”.

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