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Black Boy. Richard Wright. Autobiography. Story of a person’s life (biography) – told by that same person Biographies portrays experience – not just a record First hand account – reactions, feelings. Richard’s Life. Born September 4, 1908 in Roxie, Mississippi Parents

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black boy

Black Boy

Richard Wright

  • Story of a person’s life (biography) – told by that same person
  • Biographies portrays experience – not just a record
    • First hand account – reactions, feelings
richard s life
Richard’s Life
  • Born September 4, 1908 in Roxie, Mississippi
    • Parents
      • Ellen Wilson, Schoolteacher
      • Nathan Wright, Sharecropper
        • a system of farming in which a landowner allows a tenant to use the land in return for a share of the crop produced on the land
  • Moved to Memphis in 1913 – Nathan deserted the family
    • Ellen fell ill for the first time
    • The family began moving around a lot
education and writing
Education and Writing
  • “The Voodoo of Hell’s Half-Acre”
    • Published in Junior High
  • Graduated as Valedictorian in 1925
    • Moved to Chicago in 1928
  • Wrote for Communist newspapers
  • Became established as a writer in 1940 with Native Son
black boy and after
Black Boy and after
  • Black Boy was published in 1945
    • Very successful
  • Left the United States and refused to return to racist America
    • Anti-Communist investigations beginning at that point
  • Died of a heart attack in 1960

Prejudice and Tolerance

Race and Racism

Individualism and Alienation


1909 – NAACP established in New York

1914 – World War I begins

1920 – 18th and 19th Amendments passed

1929 – Stock Market crashes

1930 – Worldwide Depression

1939 – World War II begins

1955 – 1965 – Civil Rights Movement

jim crow laws
Jim Crow Laws
  • Post Civil War – “freedmen”
  • State and local laws legally enforced segregation
    • “Separate but equal”
    • Woodrow Wilson – elected in 1912
      • Segregated Federal offices
  • Enacted between 1876-1965
  • No right to vote; no voice in government
the great migration and harlem renaissance
The Great Migration and Harlem Renaissance
  • Tired of being mistreated, many Blacks migrated North to cities like Chicago
    • More opportunities and jobs
  • New found Independence
    • Harlem Renaissance: flowering of cultural and intellectual life
    • New Black Identity

A socioeconomic structure and political ideology that promotes the establishment of an egalitarian, classless, stateless society based on common ownership and control of the means of production and property in general

Pro: same standard for all

Con: no personal freedoms

h l mencken 1880 1956
H.L. Mencken 1880-1956

American journalist, essayist, magazine editor, satirist, acerbic critic of American life and culture, and a student of American English.

The American Language- a multi-volume study of how the English language is spoken in the United States

The “Monkey” Trial - satirical reporting on the Scopes trial (teaching evolution)

Instead of arguing that one race or group was superior to another, he believed that every community produced a few people of clear superiority