George Moses Horton Project

Who was George Moses Horton? What is his significance to American culture today?

An African American slave (1797–1888) challenged by laws that prevented him from learning to read and write, Horton developed a method of composing poetry orally. Like contemporary rappers Jay-Z, Common, and the Last Poets, he created a new way of making poems, generally called “free-styling.” Students would pay 25, 50, or 75 cents for Horton’s poems, depending on the level of passion for their object of affection! Using AR (augmented reality) and VR (virtual reality), the Horton Project will transport viewers to the antebellum world of the University of North Carolina, helping us to recover aural and spatial dimensions of oral poetry and performance in the 19th century.

This project is co-directed by Dr. Cecil Brown, an author and scholar, and Prof. Zephyr Frank. Read Dr. Brown's 2020 essay on George Moses Horton to learn more.

The George Moses Horton Project is affiliated with the Spatial History Project.