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The Religious Affiliation of Acclaimed African-American Writer
Richard Wright

Richard Wright was raised in a devout Seventh-day Adventist family. He went on to become one of the greatest black writers in American history - one of the first African-Americans to achieve literary fame and fortune. He referred to Seventh-day Adventists in a number of his novels.

As an adult, Wright was a devout Communist for over fifteen years, until the age of 36.

From: Matthew Duffus, "Richard Wright" article on "The Mississippi Writers" website, first posted 26 January 1999 (http://www.olemiss.edu/depts/english/ms-writers/dir/wright_richard/; viewed 20 July 2005):

Richard Wright was born on a plantation near Natchez, Mississippi, on September 4, 1908.

...Richard's grandmother, a devout Seventh Day Adventist, enrolled him in a Seventh Day Adventist school near Jackson at the age of twelve. He also attended a local public school for a few years.

...In 1927 he moved to Chicago, where he became a Post Office clerk until the Great Depression forced him to take on various temporary positions. During this time he became involved with the Communist Party, writing articles and stories for both the Daily Worker and New Masses. In April 1931 he published his first major story, "Superstition," in Abbot's Monthly.

His ties to the Communist Party continued after moving to New York in 1937. He became the Harlem editor of the Daily Worker and helped edit a short-lived literary magazine, New Challenge...

In 1944 he broke with the Communist Party but continued to follow liberal ideologies. After moving to Paris in 1946, Wright became friends with Jean-Paul Sartre and Albert Camus while going through an Existentialist phase best depicted by his second novel, The Outsiders (1953)...

Among his other works are two autobiographies. Black Boy, published in 1945, covered his youth in the segregated South, and American Hunger, published posthumously in 1977, treated his membership and disillusionment with the Communist Party.

...As his vision of the world extended beyond the U.S., his quest for solutions expanded to include the politics and economics of emerging third world nations. Wright's development was marked by an ability to respond to the currents of the social and intellectual history of his time. His most significant contribution, however, was his desire to accurately portray blacks to white readers, thereby destroying the white myth of the patient, humorous, subservient black man.

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Webpage created 20 July 2005. Last modified 20 July 2005.
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