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Richard Wright

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Words: 275

Pages: 1


The author Richard Wright became interested in learning who H.L Mencken was after reading by accident an article about him in the newspaper.
Wright had only heard about Mencken from hearsay and knew that he was the editor of the American Mercury. He was dumbfounded by the fact that the article had seriously denounced Mencken and wondered what Mencken could have done to warrant such denunciation. He points out that on the Negroes in the South were frequent victims of such denunciation though Mencken was not a Negro. After considerable brainstorming, his conclusion was Mencken was advocating for an idea that the South was not finding favorable. Realizing that his knowledge of Mencken was vague, he felt sympathy for him and was curious to know what Mencken had done. He realized he needed help to access the books in the vast library near the riverfront as Negroes were not allowed to patronize its shelves.
With the assistance of a co-worker, he managed to get books from the library where only the “whites” were allowed to. Reading has changed the way Wright viewed the world and gave him the clarity to understand the relationship blacks and whites had in the country. Once he learned about the differences, he could no longer continue living in the south and decided to move North. Where he would have more freedom and access to improve his writing skills, so he too could express his feelings and ideas to help fight the South. He soon began engaging in organizations where other “Negroes” were fighting together against segregation.

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Wright toyed with the idea of fighting the whites by organizing with other Negroes but realized the Negroes were outnumbered and weaker. He also ruled out the possibility of organizing black rebellion as he risked dying from lynching or vent his anger by fighting other Negroes or finding consolation in alcohol and sex. His reading had made him reach a point in which he could not assume the states of the world around him. The thought of not doing anything to fight the South always reminded him of how his father’s actions did not change anything, thereby making that course of action repugnant. Wright additionally did not have any hopes of joining a profession as he had been conditioned that it was not attractive, and he also lacked the capabilities of being a professional. His reading had created a vast sense of distance between him and the world around him.

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