Black Boy

First edition

Memoir by American author Richard Wright, detailing his upbringing.

- Black Boy

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Richard Wright (author)

American author of novels, short stories, poems, and non-fiction.

Wright in a 1939 photograph by Carl Van Vechten
A historic marker in Natchez, Mississippi, commemorating Richard Wright, who was born near the city
Canada Lee as Bigger Thomas in the Orson Welles production of Native Son (1941)
Plaque commemorating Wright's residence in Paris, at 14, rue Monsieur le Prince.
Banned Books Week reading of Black Boy at Shimer College in 2013

This text was an excerpt of his autobiography scheduled to be published as American Hunger but was removed from the actual publication of Black Boy upon request by the Book of the Month Club.

Theodore G. Bilbo

American politician who twice served as governor of Mississippi (1916–20, 1928–32) and later was elected a U.S. Senator (1935–47).

Senator Theodore G. Bilbo
Bilbo towards the end of his life

Bilbo denounced Richard Wright's autobiography, Black Boy (1945), on the Senate floor.

Island Trees School District v. Pico

Case in which the United States Supreme Court split on the First Amendment issue of local school boards removing library books from junior high schools and high schools.

Island Trees High School in 2019

Black Boy, by Richard Wright

The American Place Theatre

Founded in 1963 by Wynn Handman, Sidney Lanier, and Michael Tolan at St. Clement's Church, 423 West 46th Street in Hell's Kitchen, New York City, and was incorporated as a not-for-profit theatre in that year.

Wynn Handman working in his studio on West 54th Street in New York City.

Books that have been adapted for Literature to Life's theatrical performances include Ray Bradbury's Fahrenheit 451, Tim O'Brien's The Things They Carried, Richard Wright's Black Boy, Jonathan Safran Foer's Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close, Sue Monk Kidd's The Secret Life of Bees, Khaled Hosseini's The Kite Runner, and Lois Lowry's The Giver.

Asshole

Vulgarism to describe the anus, and often used pejoratively (as a type of synecdoche) to refer to people.

The West Germanic languages

In the ninth chapter of his 1945 autobiography, Black Boy, Richard Wright quotes a snippet of verse that uses the term: "All these white folks dressed so fine / Their ass-holes smell just like mine ...".

Clarence Thomas

American lawyer and jurist who serves as an associate justice of the U.S. Supreme Court.

Official portrait, 2007
Thomas with President Ronald Reagan in 1986, while serving as chairman of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission
Clarence Thomas being sworn in as a member of the U.S. Supreme Court by Justice Byron White during an October 23, 1991, White House ceremony, as wife Virginia Thomas looks on
Thomas speaking to Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue in 2017

Thomas has said novelist Richard Wright is the most influential writer in his life; Wright's books Native Son and Black Boy "capture[d] a lot of the feelings that I had inside that you learn how to repress."

Balm in Gilead (book)

Sara Lawrence-Lightfoot's 1988 biography of her mother, Dr. Margaret Morgan Lawrence, who was one of the first black women to graduate from Cornell University and Columbia University Medical School.

First edition

H. Jack Geiger writing for The New York Times said, "We are indebted to [Lawrence-Lightfoot] (and her mother and father) for their candid portrait of this black Southern middle-class version of a journey - so different from that of Richard Wright's Black Boy or the passage of Malcolm X - that is a central theme in black American fiction and biography," traveling "across the rugged terrain of race and gender in America."

Mia Birdsong

Family activist who advocates for the strengthening of communities and the self-determination of low-income people.

Birdsong in 2017

When Birdsong was a senior in high school, she read Richard Wright's Black Boy.

Paul Coates (publisher)

American publisher, printer and community activist.

Leaving high school early, Coates enlisted in the US Army; he found himself the target of harassment and racism, but he also happened upon Richard Wright's memoir Black Boy, enlightening reading that led Coates to discover other black writers, such as Malcolm X, Dick Gregory, and James Baldwin.

Lillian B. Horace

African American author, educator, and librarian from Fort Worth, Texas, best known for her novels Five Generations Hence (1916), Crowned with Glory and Honor, and Angie Brown.

1916 portrait of Lillian B. Horace by Frank Leffler

Other influences on her work include Richard Wright's autobiography Black Boy. She wrote many entries in her diary about it in which she complimented his writing style.