Richard Wright and Black Power

Institution: Northwestern University - Special Collections
Deering Library, Level 3
1970 Campus Drive
Evanston IL 60208
Phone: 847-491-3635
Date: 1950-1960
Extent: .42 Linear Feet
Finding Aid

Biographical/Historical Note:
Richard Nathaniel Wright (1908-1960), one of the most influential African-American authors of this century, wrote novels, short stories, poetry, and essays. He was the first African-American novelist to write about urban ghettos and of the rage fostered by racism in America. In 1953 he traveled to the African Gold Coast (now Ghana), one of the first British colonies to be granted self-government. He describes his experiences in Black Power (1954) and forecasts the future for the continent under native rule. His suggestion that military regimes and rigid social structures replace tribal traditions sparked controversy, but his reporting of the society and events was considered excellent. His later books, The Color Curtain (1956) and White Man, Listen (1957), also deal with colonialism and Asian and African nationalism.

Scope and Content Note:
This collection consists primarily of the original typescript for Black Power. It contains corrections, additions, and deletions, including long holograph passages. Much of the material in this draft was never published, so it is significant for documenting Wright’s original intentions in recording his experiences in Ghana. Besides the typescript, there are some fifty pages of material perhaps intended as a supplement to the book. Included are an interview with Ghana radical Dzenkle Dzenku; a detailed account of a political meeting in 1950 which resulted in several arrests; a discussion of Kwame Nkrumah; and a four-page sheet, “Memorandum submitted to the Executive of the Convention People’s Party in Protest against its Present Policy--6th Jan. 1952,” which is bitterly anti-Nkrumah.

Related Material: None