Richard Nathaniel Wright





One of our great writer and poet, Richard Wright was born September 4, 1908 in Roxie Mississippi.  Richard migrated to Chicago and after several jobs ended up with the Federal Writers Project in 1935 and shortly thereafter became famous for Uncle Tom’s Children.  Richard received praises and one critic said: “Uncle Tom’s Children has its full share of violence and brutality; violent deaths occur in three stories and the mob goes to work in all four. Violence has long been an important element in fiction about Negroes, just as it is in their life. But where Julia Peterkin in her pastorals and Roark Bradford in his levee farces show violence to be the reaction of primitives unadjusted to modern civilization, Richard Wright shows it as the way in which civilization keeps the Negro in his place. And he knows what he is writing about.” He earned a $500 prize from Story magazine for Uncle Tom’s Children.

In 1939 Richard got a Guggenheim Fellowship that allowed him to quit the Writers Project and finish Native Son the 1940 best seller. Richard moved to New York where he was told he had a better chance of being published. Then, Richard wrote an autobiography Black Boy in 1945.  He was part of the Harlem Renaissance.  And, for a short time was a Communist.  When he resigned from the Communist party he wrote an article titled “I tried to be Communist?”  Even though, Zora Neal Hurston and others criticism of hatred and racism in his writings labelling them violent did not prevent him from becoming successful.

Some African American artist and writers during Richard’s time left America disappointed with the lack of opportunities and Jim Crow racism for Paris.  Richard visited Paris in 1946 and came home and moved his family to Paris.  He was married to Ellen who was white. He never came back.  Wright died in Paris, France, on November 28, 1960.