Richard Wright Centenenial

Richard Wright Centenenial


ChickenBones: A Journal

for Literary & Artistic African-American Themes


Home   (Books, DVDs, Music) Online

Or Send contributions to: ChickenBones: A Journal / 2005 Arabian Drive / Finksburg, MD 21048  Help Save ChickenBones

My personal gift to my father on his Birthday was to convince

HarperCollins to publish his last unpublished draft, uncorrected and

unsubmitted.  . . . It is called A Father’s Law .



Books by Richard Wright

 Richard Wright: Early Works  / Black Boy  / Native Son  / Uncle Tom’s Children / 12 Million Black Voices  / Richard Wright: Later Works

The Outsider  /  Pagan Spain Black Power  /  White Man Listen!  / The Color Curtain Savage Holiday / The Long Dream

Eight Men: Short Stories  / Haiku / American Hunger /  Lawd Today!

*   *   *   *    *

The Homestretch to the Richard Wright Centennial

By Julia Wright


My mother, Ellen Poplar married Richard Wright on March 12 1941 and died on April 6 2004, aged 92. Forty four years after Richard. They are both buried in the French exile they chose, in Paris. Ellen was the Executrix of the Richard Wright Estate for long decades before her death, and was as well a literary agent in her own right. (Her “stable” included Simone de Beauvoir, Eldridge Cleaver, Violette Leduc, etc.) In the late seventies, I returned to Paris from my freelance journalism work in Africa to help my aging mother to shoulder the dialogue of Richard Wright’s paper sons and daughters with the world. As from 2004, I have been representing the Estate in her place, helped through my mourning by the thought of a birth, a century ago in 1908, in Natchez. And how to commemorate that birth internationally. My personal gift to my father on his Birthday was to convince HarperCollins to publish his last unpublished draft, uncorrected and unsubmitted. Death literally prevented him from giving it the ending he would have wanted for it. It is called A Father’s Law and will be published by HarperCollins on January 8th with a short introduction by me, describing how I found it and related to the conflict between the generations it depicts. My second gift was to Richard Wright’s readership, deprived for so long from his political non fiction written in exile at the height of the Cold War. These books, essentially a trilogy, Black Power, White Man, Listen!, The Color Curtain, had been allowed to fall out of print for reasons of “poor sales” – some claimed; for reasons of “black listing” – others claimed. Wherever the truth lies, it was my wish to give these later writings back to the public and again HarperCollins worked in agreement by issuing an omnibus  containing all three works, due to hit the bookshops in February 2008. Meanwhile, the idea of a preliminary series of Pre-Centennial Lectures and gatherings to plan Richard Wright events was born. The idea was to give autobiographical talks based on my own work in progress wherever interest in Richard Wright was strong and leave my hosts free to brainstorm and plan their own creative tributes to Richard Wright—from Centennial Committees to Festivals to art and the creation of landmarks and encouragement of his ideas, from literacy to the unrelenting struggle against racism.

During 2006, I followed the trail of Pre-Centennial interest in him from Seattle to the University of Columbia, Missouri. Professor Julius Thompson, my first Pre-Centennial lecture host, passed away barely a week ago. May he rest in peace. In New Orleans, I spoke on the uncanny resemblance with Katrina, of the floods portrayed in “Uncle Tom’s Children” and “Eight Men”—only to speak the following week in arid Arizona on campus but also in the community. I spoke at the University of Massachusetts and a few days ago at the University of Temple and at the University of Pennsylvania, the guest of Professor Joyce Ann Joyce, one of the first outstanding Richard Wright scholars. It was during a summer of many speeches that we learned that Michel Fabre, the author of The Unfinished Quest of Richard Wright had also passed. My condolences to Geneviève. Each time I left to go home to exile, Paris, and to my memoir. Meanwhile, Professor Jerry Ward was sparking off Richard Wright Reading Circles which became a household word throughout the South. And feisty, driven women like Professor Maryemma Graham and Dr. Colia Clark traced a network of revival throughout the land.

*   *   *   *    *

And so 2008 looms with from February 20 to 24 in Natchez, The Natchez Literary and Film Festival totally dedicated to Richard Wright, (contact Carolyn Vance Smith :

March 28-March 30 : I will be speaking on the theme of “Transmission and Resistance” at the Conference of Black Writers at Medgar Evers College, (contact: March 29 (4:30 p.m.) takes us to the Schomburg Center in Harlem where we will be hosted by the Organization of American Historians, Howard Dodson and Professor Maryemma Graham on a panel of historians discussing : “Richard Wright at 100 : looking backward and forward” (contact Maryemma Graham : 13th 2008 : Richard Wright day at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill (contact : This will be a daylong commemoration where I share the keynote with my longstanding friend, Professor Jerry Ward.April 20th to 27th is Richard Wright Week in Philadelphia (contact Dr. Colia Clark : or Larry Robin : 19 and 20: American University of Paris, an international seminar on Richard Wright (contact William Dow : or Alice Craven : 28th : a seminar on Richard Wright in Hiroshima, Japan, sponsored by the Japanese Black Studies Association (contact Toru Kiuchi : 4 to 12 2008 : Jackson Mississippi Richard Wright week at various venues (confirmation with 1st 2008 : I will be giving the first Du Bois Institute lecture in Harvard (Contact Dell Hamilton: These are but a few early examples of venues, with others being planned in Jackson and Memphis, spilling over into 2010. 2010 being the commemoration of my father’s premature death in 1960.

*   *   *   *   *

Here are websites and email connections will keep all those who seek more details regularly updated :



Contains the full schedule for 2008 NLCC “Richard Wright, the South, and The World,” February 21-24, 2008, and the link [Reading Richard Wright opens on Jerry Ward’s year-long discussion project in Natchez. 3.

Official website for the Project on the History of Black Writing at the University of Kansas.

*   *   *   *   *

For Richard Wright at 100 events, nationally and internationally. Email connections are

Jerry Ward / Maryemma Graham / Dr. Colia Clark

Everybody has internalized his or her Richard Wright. That is how it should be. If, as his elder daughter, I had a personal emphasis to put I would say that though the elites of Academia have claimed him and indeed deconstructed and post-deconstructed him, he belongs in the end to the community. Bigger was electrocuted by the State, x-rayed by showpiece Academia, given care and attention where academics can  be most generous – and yet, elusive still,  he is alive and kicking out there seeking answers to questions that are being asked manifold.  Paris Dec 18th 2007

*   *   *   *   *

Dr. Jerry Ward Lectures on Richard Wright

Dillard professor celebrates Richard Wright Centennial with lecture series (January 4, 2008) – Jerry W. Ward, Jr., distinguished scholar and professor of English and African World Studies at Dillard University, is conducting a series of lectures throughout the 2008 academic year to celebrate the life and literary work of author Richard Wright (Native Son, Black Boy, et al). The series will feature with a three-day event—The Richard Wright Centennial Lectures 2008 – to be held March 11-13, 2008 at Dillard University. The events at Dillard are free and open to the public. Dr. Ward will also be featured at the Richard Wright Centennial Conference, June 19-21, 2008, in Paris, France. Wright spent a number of years as an expatriate writer in Paris. Dr. Ward is the group leader for the pre-Centennial series of discussions on Wright and his work that are held once a month at various locations around Natchez, Mississippi, Wright’s birthplace. The theme of the discussions is “Reading Richard Wright on the Eve of His 100th Birthday.” The Natchez events are sponsored by the Mississippi Humanities Council, the Natchez Association for the Preservation of African-American Culture, and the Natchez Literary and Cinema Celebration. Dr. Ward will be a featured speaker at the Natchez Annual Literary and Cinema Celebration, to be held February 21-24, 2008, at the Natchez Convention Center. The theme of the event will be “Richard Wright, The South, and The World.” Wright’s daughter and grandchildren are expected to attend. One of America’s greatest African-American writers, Richard Wright was also among the first Black writers to achieve literary fame and fortune, but his reputation has less to do with the color of his skin than with the superb quality of his work. He was born and spent the first years of his life on a plantation not far from Natchez, Mississippi. His father, Nathaniel, was an illiterate sharecropper and his mother, Ella Wilson, was a well-educated school teacher. The family’s extreme poverty forced them to move to Memphis when Richard was six years old. Although he spent only a few years of his life in Mississippi, those years would play a key role in his two of his most recognized works: Native Son, a novel, and his autobiography, Black Boy. Dr. Ward is currently co-editing the forthcoming Cambridge History of African-American Literature with Professor Maryemma Graham, University of Kansas. Dr. Ward is also a Richard Wright scholar, and has a central role in planning the Richard Wright Centennial 2008.

CONTACT: Karen Celestan / University Communications / (504) 816-4800 [office] /

*   *   *   *   *

The Richard Wright Centennial Lectures 2008

January 24-25 – Elderhostel/Road Scholar, Atlanta, GA o Richard Wright and Cultural Explorations, 1947-1960 o One Writer’s Legacy: Richard Wright and Our 21st Century February 15 – Heart’s Day Program, Howard University Memorial panel featuring Ward, Michel Fabre and John Reilly February 21-24 – The Annual Natchez Literary and Cinema Celebration (Natchez Convention Center, Natchez, MS) Theme: Richard Wright, The South, and The World o February 21, 2008 – Discussion: Long Black Song – From Page to Screen o February 22, 2008 – Native Son: The Novel and the Plays March 11-13 – The Richard Wright Centennial Lectures Dillard University o March 11 – Lecture I: Richard Wright: Notes on Southern Exposure o March 12 – Lecture II: Richard Wright: On Urbanization and Consequences o March 13 – Lecture III: Richard Wright: Readings of International Cultures and Politics March 28-30 – Ninth National Black Writers Conference Black Writers: Reading and Writing to Transform Their Lives and the World – Medgar Evers College, New York o March 29 – Disaster and Transformation: Writing The Katrina Papers: A Journal of Trauma and Recovery March 31-April 1 – Nazareth College, Rochester, New York o Discussion of Eight Men with classes o Richard Wright: Readings of International Cultures and Politics April 3-5 – Oxford Conference for the Book (Oxford, MS) o April 4 – Uncle Tom’s Children Revisited April 9-12 – College Language Association – Charleston, South Carolina o Richard Wright and the Common Reader April 13 – Richard Wright Colloquium, University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, North Carolina o One Writer’s Legacy: Richard Wright and Our 21st Century June 19-21 – Richard Wright Centennial Conference, Paris, France o Autobiographical Imperatives and Subliminal Dialogic in the Works of Richard Wright June 28-30 – Japan Black Studies Association, Hiroshima, Japan o June 29 – Wright’s Prophetic Importance: A View from the Black American South

*   *   *   *    *


The Katrina Papers, by Jerry W. Ward, Jr. $18.95  /  The Richard Wright Encyclopedia (2008)

*   *   *   *   *’s 25 Best Selling Books

For July 1st through August 31st 2011  


#1 – Justify My Thug by Wahida Clark #2 – Flyy Girl by Omar Tyree #3 – Head Bangers: An APF Sexcapade by Zane #4 – Life Is Short But Wide by J. California Cooper #5 – Stackin’ Paper 2 Genesis’ Payback by Joy King #6 – Thug Lovin’ (Thug 4) by Wahida Clark #7 – When I Get Where I’m Going by Cheryl Robinson #8 – Casting the First Stone by Kimberla Lawson Roby #9 – The Sex Chronicles: Shattering the Myth by Zane

#10 – Covenant: A Thriller  by Brandon Massey

#11 – Diary Of A Street Diva  by Ashley and JaQuavis

#12 – Don’t Ever Tell  by Brandon Massey

#13 – For colored girls who have considered suicide  by Ntozake Shange

#14 – For the Love of Money : A Novel by Omar Tyree

#15 – Homemade Loves  by J. California Cooper

#16 – The Future Has a Past: Stories by J. California Cooper

#17 – Player Haters by Carl Weber

#18 – Purple Panties: An Anthology by Sidney Molare

#19 – Stackin’ Paper by Joy King

#20 – Children of the Street: An Inspector Darko Dawson Mystery by Kwei Quartey

#21 – The Upper Room by Mary Monroe

#22 – Thug Matrimony  by Wahida Clark

#23 – Thugs And The Women Who Love Them by Wahida Clark

#24 – Married Men by Carl Weber

#25 – I Dreamt I Was in Heaven – The Rampage of the Rufus Buck Gang by Leonce Gaiter


#1 – Malcolm X: A Life of Reinvention by Manning Marable #2 – Confessions of a Video Vixen by Karrine Steffans #3 – Dear G-Spot: Straight Talk About Sex and Love by Zane #4 – Letters to a Young Brother: MANifest Your Destiny by Hill Harper #5 – Peace from Broken Pieces: How to Get Through What You’re Going Through by Iyanla Vanzant #6 – Selected Writings and Speeches of Marcus Garvey by Marcus Garvey #7 – The Ebony Cookbook: A Date with a Dish by Freda DeKnight #8 – The Isis Papers: The Keys to the Colors by Frances Cress Welsing #9 – The Mis-Education of the Negro by Carter Godwin Woodson

#10 – John Henrik Clarke and the Power of Africana History  by Ahati N. N. Toure

#11 – Fail Up: 20 Lessons on Building Success from Failure by Tavis Smiley

#12 –The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness by Michelle Alexander

#13 – The Black Male Handbook: A Blueprint for Life by Kevin Powell

#14 – The Other Wes Moore: One Name, Two Fates by Wes Moore

#15 – Why Men Fear Marriage: The Surprising Truth Behind Why So Many Men Can’t Commit  by RM Johnson

#16 – Black Titan: A.G. Gaston and the Making of a Black American Millionaire by Carol Jenkins

#17 – Brainwashed: Challenging the Myth of Black Inferiority by Tom Burrell

#18 – A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life’s Purpose by Eckhart Tolle

#19 – John Oliver Killens: A Life of Black Literary Activism by Keith Gilyard

#20 – Alain L. Locke: The Biography of a Philosopher by Leonard Harris

#21 – Age Ain’t Nothing but a Number: Black Women Explore Midlife by Carleen Brice

#22 – 2012 Guide to Literary Agents by Chuck Sambuchino #23 – Chicken Soup for the Prisoner’s Soul by Tom Lagana #24 – 101 Things Every Boy/Young Man of Color Should Know by LaMarr Darnell Shields

#25 – Beyond the Black Lady: Sexuality and the New African American Middle Class  by Lisa B. Thompson

*   *   *   *   *

Book of Sins

By Nidaa Khoury

Khoury’s poetry is fired by belief in the human and the spiritual at a time when many of us feel unreal and often spiritually hollow.—Yair Huri, Ben-Gurion University 

Written in water and ink, in between the shed blood. Nidaa Khoury’s poems take us to the bosom of an ancient woman  . . . an archetype revived. The secret she whispers is ‘smaller than words.’—Karin Karakasli, author, Turkey

Nidaa Khoury was born in Fassouta, Upper Galilee, in 1959. Khoury is the author of seven books published in Arabic and several other languages, including The Barefoot River, which appeared in Arabic and Hebrew and The Bitter Crown, censored in Jordan. The Palestinian poet is studied in Israeli universities and widely reviewed by the Arab press. The founder of the Association of Survival, an NGO for minorities in Israel, Khoury has participated in over 30 international literary and human rights conferences and festivals. Khoury is the subject of the award-winning film, Nidaa Through Silence.

*   *   *   *   *


Sex at the Margins

Migration, Labour Markets and the Rescue Industry

By Laura María Agustín

This book explodes several myths: that selling sex is completely different from any other kind of work, that migrants who sell sex are passive victims and that the multitude of people out to save them are without self-interest. Laura Agustín makes a passionate case against these stereotypes, arguing that the label ‘trafficked’ does not accurately describe migrants’ lives and that the ‘rescue industry’ serves to disempower them. Based on extensive research amongst both migrants who sell sex and social helpers, Sex at the Margins provides a radically different analysis. Frequently, says Agustin, migrants make rational choices to travel and work in the sex industry, and although they are treated like a marginalised group they form part of the dynamic global economy. Both powerful and controversial, this book is essential reading for all those who want to understand the increasingly important relationship between sex markets, migration and the desire for social justice.

“Sex at the Margins rips apart distinctions between migrants, service work and sexual labour and reveals the utter complexity of the contemporary sex industry. This book is set to be a trailblazer in the study of sexuality.”—Lisa Adkins, University of London

*   *   *   *   *

Debt: The First 5,000 Years

By David Graeber

Before there was money, there was debt. Every economics textbook says the same thing: Money was invented to replace onerous and complicated barter systems—to relieve ancient people from having to haul their goods to market. The problem with this version of history? There’s not a shred of evidence to support it. Here anthropologist David Graeber presents a stunning reversal of conventional wisdom. He shows that for more than 5,000 years, since the beginnings of the first agrarian empires, humans have used elaborate credit systems to buy and sell goods—that is, long before the invention of coins or cash. It is in this era, Graeber argues, that we also first encounter a society divided into debtors and creditors.  Graeber shows that arguments about debt and debt forgiveness have been at the center of political debates from Italy to China, as well as sparking innumerable insurrections.

He also brilliantly demonstrates that the language of the ancient works of law and religion (words like “guilt,” “sin,” and “redemption”) derive in large part from ancient debates about debt, and shape even our most basic ideas of right and wrong. We are still fighting these battles today without knowing it. Debt: The First 5,000 Years is a fascinating chronicle of this little known history—as well as how it has defined human history, and what it means for the credit crisis of the present day and the future of our economy.   Economist Glenn Loury  /Criminalizing a Race

*   *   *   *   *

Blacks in Hispanic Literature: Critical Essays

Edited by Miriam DeCosta-Willis 

Blacks in Hispanic Literature is a collection of fourteen essays by scholars and creative writers from Africa and the Americas. Called one of two significant critical works on Afro-Hispanic literature to appear in the late 1970s, it includes the pioneering studies of Carter G. Woodson and Valaurez B. Spratlin, published in the 1930s, as well as the essays of scholars whose interpretations were shaped by the Black aesthetic. The early essays, primarily of the Black-as-subject in Spanish medieval and Golden Age literature, provide an historical context for understanding 20th-century creative works by African-descended, Hispanophone writers, such as Cuban Nicolás Guillén and Ecuadorean poet, novelist, and scholar Adalberto Ortiz, whose essay analyzes the significance of Negritude in Latin America.

This collaborative text set the tone for later conferences in which writers and scholars worked together to promote, disseminate, and critique the literature of Spanish-speaking people of African descent. . . . Cited by a literary critic in 2004 as “the seminal study in the field of Afro-Hispanic Literature . . . on which most scholars in the field ‘cut their teeth’.”

*   *   *   *   *

Outlandish Blues

By Honorée Fanonne Jeffers

Jeffers derives her form and jaunty, deal-with-it attitude from the blues, an American tradition that beats back despair with wit, élan, and grace. Artfully distilled, Jeffers’ musical and forthright lyrics cut to the chase in their depictions of self-destructive love, treacherous family life, and sexual passion turned oppressive or violent. She calls on her mentors, soulful musicians such as Dinah Washington, James Brown, John Coltrane, and Aretha Franklin, for guidance, then, sustained by their voices, segues into vivid imaginings of the inner lives of biblical figures such as Sarah, Hagar, and Lot’s wife; a man about to be lynched; and a former slave bravely attending college. And whether she’s singing the “battered blues” or critiquing Hollywood’s depiction of slavery, Jeffers is questioning the nature and presence of God.— Booklist

*   *   *   *   *

The White Masters of the World

From The World and Africa, 1965

By W. E. B. Du Bois

W. E. B. Du Bois’ Arraignment and Indictment of White Civilization (Fletcher)

*   *   *   *   *

Ancient African Nations

*   *   *   *   *

If you like this page consider making a donation

online through PayPal

*   *   *   *   *

Negro Digest / Black World

Browse all issues

1950        1960        1965        1970        1975        1980        1985        1990        1995        2000 ____ 2005        


*   *   *   *   *

The Death of Emmett Till by Bob Dylan  The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll  Only a Pawn in Their Game

Rev. Jesse Lee Peterson Thanks America for Slavery /

George Jackson  / Hurricane Carter

*   *   *   *   *

The Journal of Negro History issues at Project Gutenberg

The Haitian Declaration of Independence 1804  / January 1, 1804 — The Founding of Haiti 

*   *   *   *   *


*   *   *   *   *






posted 4 December 2007




Home Richard Wright Table   Wright Bio-Chronology (1908-1960) 

Related files: The Weight and Substance of A Father’s Law

Post Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.