Richard Wright's Mississippi
"I would hurl words into this darkness and wait for an echo, and if an echo sounded, no matter how faintly, I would send other words to tell, to march, to fight, to create a sense of hunger for life that gnaws in us all."
Richard Wright was born on Rucker Plantation in 1908, a few miles outside of Natchez. He was the grandson of a slave and the son of a sharecropper and is Natchez's celebrated "native son."
where Wright lived still stands and the highway that leads into town, which is an origination point for the Natchez Trace parkway, is named in Wright's honor.
As a child, his family moved to Memphis and soon thereafter his father Nathaniel, abandoned the family. His mother, Ella, was forced to support herself and her children until she had a stroke. Ella moved with her two young sons back to Mississippi.
Richard began writing at an early age and had his first published work, The Voodoo of Hell's Half-Acre
, in the African-American paper The Southern Register, when he was just fifteen. He attended Smith Robertson Jr. High School and was valedictorian of his class.
Though Wright eventually moved away from the Jim Crow South to live in Chicago, New York and ultimately Paris, his youth in Mississippi forever shadowed his perspective and his works.
Native Son was the first book by an African-American writer chosen as a selection by the Book of the Month Club. The book was turned into a Broadway play directed by Orson Welles in 1941.
Upon Wright's death in 1960, his crematory urn also contained the ashes of a copy of his seminal novel Black Boy
Richard Wright Reading List
Haiku: This Other World
Uncle Tom's Children
The Ethics Of Living Jim Crow: An Autobiographical Sketch
White Man, Listen!
Southern Literary Trail
"The artist must bow to the monster of his own imagination."