“Men can starve from a lack of self-realization as much as they can from a lack of bread.” – Richard Wright
Wright, born in Chicago on this date in 1908, authored at least two American literary classics – his novel Native Son, published in 1940, and his autobiographical Black Boy in 1945. While some looked upon his works as controversial, most regarded his writing, whether fiction or non, as keys to helping change the conversation about race relations in the United States. His work has been a force in the social and intellectual history of the United States for 75 years.
Over the course of his short life (he died in 1960), Wright wrote in a wide variety of genres authoring hundreds of journalistic pieces, many short stories, novels and nonfiction books, poetry, and dozens of hard-hitting essays. Much of his literature focuses on the plight of African Americans during the late 19th to mid-20th centuries who suffered discrimination and violence, whether they resided in the South or the North. "Wright was one of the people who made me conscious of the need to struggle", said fellow writer Amiri Baraka.
“I would hurl words into this darkness and wait for an echo,” Wright said, “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.”