Wright discussions are enlightening

Published 2:53 pm Friday, April 27, 2007

This is such an exciting time in Natchez! All kinds of things are going on.

We have the upcoming festival of music, the belles on bikes event, and a trunk show of fine leather handbags.

We just had the blues festival, a very successful Pilgrimage season, and a screening of “An Inconvenient Truth” with discussion led by Darryl Grennell at the Armstrong Library last Sunday.

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We also have the ongoing celebration of the 100th anniversary of the birth of Richard Wright, a year-long monthly discussion of his books led by Dr. Jerry W. Ward Jr., professor of English and African World Studies at Dillard University in New Orleans.

I attended the last one, held on Saturday at the Little Theatre, where we discussed “Black Boy,” Wright’s autobiography.

What an enlightening afternoon!

What drew me to the discussion is my interest in race relations, and I was not disappointed.

Aside from being a beautifully written book (and I don’t think anyone questions the brilliance of Wright’s gift), it is a testimony about a life formed by hunger and resentment and how the protagonist turns that into a positive force instead of a life of crime or defeat.

There was much discussion about what an important book this is for all to read, as Dr. Ward pointed out, so we can ask “Who are the Klansmen of the future?”

Indeed, my work has allowed me to travel extensively around the world, (I work in the film business) and when I go somewhere, I stay for a while and get to know the locals. Not like a tourist.

What has struck me is that racism and nationalism are still alive in some places, and if not dealt with can escalate into war or holocaust, as they did in Bosnia. And now we are witnessing the civil war in Iraq.

There were many interesting people who attended the discussion, including some members of Wright’s family.

The library provided a list of five questions in advance so that I knew the outline of what the discussion would be.

The next discussion is from 2 to 4 p.m. May 5 at the Natchez High School auditorium, and the book is “12 Million Black Voices.” There are special copies on hold at the Armstrong Library. I hope to see you there.

Carlane Passman Little commutes between her home in Natchez and her residence in California.