Little Known Black History Fact: Richard Wright

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  • Controversial black writer Richard Wright had a reputation for writing from the communist black perspective in the late 1930’s. His novels and shorts stories were known for their level of controversy. Wright was a known member of the Communist party but was not truly accepted among white communists of New York or the black communists. The black communists thought that he was conforming to white society with his polished appearance.

    A native of Roxie, Mississippi, Wright was uprooted from his home when his parents fell ill and sent to an orphanage. He was later sent to Jackson, Mississippi to live with his grandmother, a devout Seventh-Day Adventist, in 1925. A bright but challenging student, Wright wrote "The Voodoo of Hell's Half-Acre," which was published in the local black publication, at age 15.

    Wrights’ most famous known work was called “Native Son” written in 1938. The story was about a man named “Bigger Thomas” who used physical combat against racism. It was followed by "Uncle Tom’s Children." He also penned an autobiography called "Black Boy" in which he wrote about his true experience of borrowing the library card of an Irish co-worker and forged notes to the librarian so he could read: "Dear Madam: Will you please let this nigger boy have some books by H. L. Mencken?" Shortly after his southern experiences, Wright left for Chicago in 1927.

    Sick of the racism in America and the treatment of he and his white wife, Wright moved to Paris in 1946 and never returned to the United States. He received a posthumous U.S. Postage Stamp in 2009.
     

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