Wright still offers lessons for us today

Published 6:00 am Tuesday, January 2, 2007

The world was a radically different place in 1908. At the beginning of the year, the first ball dropped in New York City’s Times Square, celebrating the New Year.

That summer would mark the first time women competed in modern Olympic games.

On Sept. 4, 1908, Henry Ford likely was preparing the final details of his first Model T, which would be built later that month.

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And on that day in Roxie a grandson of slaves was born into a world of racism and poverty.

Soon that baby, Richard Nathaniel Wright, would grow into a man, a man whose direct, personal words would affect the world for decades to come.

Some of Richard Wright’s works created controversy when written. His political views made both him and his works untouchable to some. Eventually, Mississippi’s native son found refuge in Paris, a foreign land in which he felt more fully accepted.

Yet, today, Wright’s life and works are still being studied and interpreted, reconsidered and, perhaps, more accurately understood with the clarity only time can offer.

Later this month, a special series focusing on Wright will begin in Natchez. Throughout 2007, Wright scholar Dr. Jerry W. Ward will lead a discussion focused on one of Wright’s works.

The goal is to begin building momentum for the 2008 Natchez Literary and Cinema Celebration that will feature Wright.

And in the process, countless residents have a free opportunity to learn about the world through the eyes of a small baby with a big, world-changing view.