Monday, July 19, 2010

Another Wright Connection

Back in the day, some of the down-home southern folks would ask you, “who your people?” And if they recognized you as related to someone they knew well, they’d touch you on the shoulder and say “you are the connection.”

If some of my folks met yesterday’s speaker, Julia Wright, at the Wright institute, they would’ve touched her on the shoulder and reminded her, “you are the connection.” She is, in fact, Richard Wright's daughter. Julia Wright made a presentation designed to assist us (teachers) in presenting Wright’s Native Son to our students.

Something that stood out to me occurred during the question and answer. Someone asked how she thought Wright might advise their students, and she mentioned that her father would likely offer the kind of advice he provided her by noting that truth (knowledge, information, and ideas) exist well beyond the university. “It’s in the community,” she said. “It’s in the doing.”

For our concerns here, check this: Richard Wright was in the community with the people, on the organizing tip. The intellectual and knowledge work. The writings. He doing this in the 1930s, you know. In other words, Richard Wright was doing black studies about 40 years before it was known as black studies.

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