Join us for reading group discussions

Published 6:00 am Thursday, January 11, 2007

It’s coming right up, folks. Jump in!

Starting Thursday, Jan. 18, and continuing monthly all year, you can participate in a rewarding series of readings and discussions about the life, times and documentaries of Richard Wright, one of America’s most recognized and critically acclaimed writers.

The sessions, which celebrate the upcoming 100th anniversary of his birth in 1908, near Roxie, are free and open to the public. Dr. Jerry Ward, professor of English and African World Studies, Dillard University in New Orleans, is discussion leader.

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If you are curious — and perhaps a little afraid to hear what you fear in the written interpretations of a native Mississippi son whose two paternal and two maternal grandparents were born into slavery — an incredible learning experience awaits you.

The first thing to do is go straight to Armstrong Library and check out “Uncle Tom’s Children.” This collection of his works is the source of the first discussions.

Questions like, “Does Down by the Riverside seem to have unusual significance if we compare the 1927 Mississippi River flood to the Hurricane Katrina?” are being posed.

And of course, as in any discussion group, you may inject your own ideas for tossing around. In this case, you probably can’t not.

Several copies of the book are on reserve at Armstrong Library. Go now, before the 18th. Fliers are there, too, so you can see and prepare for the upcoming topics, dates and times.

I checked out the book to peruse it for enough background information to write to you today. Once I started the autobiographical sketch, “The Ethics of Living Jim Crow,” I was captivated, disturbed, amazed, appalled and positively impressed.

The Jan. 18 discussion is at Alcorn School of Business Auditorium in Natchez from 6 to 8 p.m. The year-long event is sponsored by Copiah-Lincoln Community College, The Natchez Literary and Cinema Celebration and The Natchez Richard Wright Centennial Celebration Committee, and is partially funded by the Mississippi Humanities Council.

Sit next to me.

Jack Kelly is a Natchez resident.