JACKSON, Miss. — Mississippi Public Broadcasting is reaching into its vault to re-air programs from the MPB Classics series from years gone by. Richard Wright: Black Boy, a feature-length documentary produced in 1994, will air at 9 p.m. Monday, Oct. 23 on MPB Television.
Wright was born near Natchez, Mississippi in 1908. He overcame childhood poverty and oppression to become one of America’s most influential and controversial writers. The documentary covers his life’s journey of writing short stories, poems and books to expose the effects of racism on African Americans.
In the documentary, excerpts from Native Son and Black Boy – two of Wright’s most famous books – are intercut with historical footage and recollections from friends, historians, journalists and fellow writers. Margaret Walker Alexander and Willie Morris are among several individuals who recount the impact of Wright’s work personally and professionally.
“I simply stopped existing,” explained Alexander after reading “Native Son” in 1940. “I missed school for at least a week. I couldn’t function for two weeks.” The book reportedly stunned America with its searing and unprecedented indictment of racism in the country.
The documentary also details Wright’s decision to join and leave the Communist Party declaring “nothing comes before my art.” Facing an FBI investigation for ties to communism, Wright moved to France where he lived and worked until his death in 1960.
Future programs from the MPB Classic series include Return to the River: A Television Voyage, Good Morning Blues and Dr. Arthur Guyton: Searching for Truths. Return to the River airs at 9 p.m. Nov. 20.
For more information regarding MPB, visit www.mpbonline.org.