Monday, October 27, 2008

And the Countdown Begins...

Our wonderful, knowledge-filled extravaganza is quickly approaching. As I am counting down the days for our Natchez trip, I am completely overwhelmed with being apart of the such a landmark opportunity. Not only am I becoming re-familiar with a long time favorite author, but I am able to greedily indulge in the knowledge and expertise of my colleagues, who possess the same love I have for reading. Taking care to create a list of all the technology I will be dragging along the way, I am anxiously awaiting to indulge in intense conversation with you and to be stimulated intellectually. What are your expectations for this trip? Do you possess the same excitement for the trip?

Library Card, Anyone?

While reading Cassandra's booklist, "Other Resources on Richard Wright," it dawned on me. I forgot about the children's picture book, Richard Wright and the Library Card, by William Miller and illustrated by Gregory Christie.

As you can guess, the title is taken from our 4Ws selection, Black Boy. Readers are given snapshots of our hero and his many ways to discover the written word as he ages. The story then fast-forwards to the fateful day Wright asks a coworker if he might borrow his library card. The exchange between a nervous Wright and nosy librarian makes for great copy. The acrylic and colored pencil illustrations of a stereotypical librarian, complete with hair bun and cat eye glasses, cracks me up.

Published in 1997, the dedication page reads, "For my son Julian, books are the road to the promised land."

As a teacher's resource, obviously, this book targets an elementary school audience. It has too many words for a group of toddlers or kindergarten class, but readers may entertain by glossing over the words with a paraphrased version.

Other ideas include celebrating Richard Wright's birthday and library card sign-up-month in September. Reading the book aloud to a group of six-year-old kids before awarding them with a personal library card, will surely be a program hit.

Can you think of another way to share this book with young readers? If so, please leave a comment below and I will add it to this post. ~ Maggie

Sunday, October 26, 2008

What's TBR?

In bloggie world, book bloggers like to show off their to be read (TBR) pile. I thought it would be fun to do an example for our 4Ws group.

My article for the newspapers this week features Wright's Uncle Tom's Children. You can read it here!

Since reading Black Boy, I have written two separate book talks: one, about our state's excellent record of autobiographies, and the other on the book. I also podcast some articles here.

Anyone else like to photograph and post their TBR pile? ~ Maggie

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Other Resources On Richard Wright

Fabre, Michel. The Unfinished Quest of Richard Wright. Translated by Isabel Barzun. New York: William Morrow & Company, Inc., 1973.

Gates, Henry Louis Gates, Jr., and K.A. Appian, eds. Richard Wright, Critical Perspectives Past and Present. New York: Amistad, 1993.

Kinnamon, Keneth, and Michel Fabre. Conversations with Richard Wright. Jackson: University Press of Mississippi, 1993.

Rowley, Hazel. Richard Wright: The Life and Times. New York: Henry Holt and Company, 2001.

Urban, Joan. Richard Wright: Author. New York: Chelsea House, 1989.

Walker, Margaret. Richard Wright, Daemonic Genius. New York: Amistad, 1988.

Webb, Constance. Richard Wright, A Biography. New York: G. P. Putnam & Sons, 1968.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Haiku Friday!


A leaf chases wind
Across an autumn river
And shakes a pine tree.

Haiku: This Other World by Richard Wright (Arcade, 1998)
~ Maggie

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Positive Influence

Since participating in the 4W's Writing Institute, I have rekindled my feelings for reading. After almost two years of receiving books by email, I have finally started to read the books I am being sent from the Central Mississippi Regional Library System. Here is how it works. I sign up for a genre I am interested in. Each week I receive a chapter a day of the current book. When I signed up I thought it was a great way to keep up with my reading. However, procrastination lead to other things. This Writing Institute really has had a positive effect on my desire to read. This week I am reading Indestructible: The Unforgettable Story of a Marine Hero at the Battle of Iwao Jima by Jack Lucas with D. K. Drum. Boy do I have a lot of emails to catch up on! How has your life been impacted by your attendance at the 4W's Writing Institute?

Monday, October 13, 2008

A Deeper Longing

Reading Black Boy as an adult has been more significant than when I read it as a child. Richard Wright longed for acceptance, for dignity, for the removal of isolation, and for the indulgence of truth. He was rather a loner, even though he knew and seem to encounter various kinds of people on a daily basis. I find that I am relating more and more to him, as I continue my slow journey to indulge myself in the very essence of his words. As I am maturing into the adult, I constantly find myself submerged by the longing to be this incredibly phenomenally successful woman...RIGHT NOW! However, my longing and Richard Wright's longing differs dramatically. He knew what his longing was. He could define that longing, that repeating throb of hunger. With me it is somewhat different, I am not sure what I define as successful. As I meet people and talk with those I know, they remind me of their amazement of my success. Unfortunately, I cannot grasp their sincerity. I am longing and longing and longing and longing for more. The question is... MORE OF WHAT? Reading Richard Wright's autobiography has really gotten me to thinking about defining the longing, the craving, the struggle for a success unknown to me.

Richard Wright (1908-1960)


Uncle Tom's Children (1938)
Native Son (1940)
The Outsider (1953)
Savage Holiday (1954)
The Long Dream (1958)
Eight Men (1961)
Lawd Today (1963)
Rite of Passage (1994)
A Father's Law (2008)


How “Bigger” Was Born: the Story of Native Son
12 Million Black Voices: A Folk History of the Negro in the United States (1941)
Black Boy (1945)
Black Power (1954)
The Color Curtain (1956)
Pagan Spain (1957)
Letters to Joe C. Brown (1968)
American Hunger (1975)
Big Boy Leaves Home (2007)


The Ethics Of Living Jim Crow: An Autobiographical Sketch (1937)
Introduction to Black Metropolis: A Study of Negro Life in a Northern City (1945)
I Choose Exile (1951)
White Man, Listen! (Garden City, New York: Doubleday, 1957)

Haiku: This Other World
. (Eds. Yoshinobu Hakutani and Robert L. Tener, 1998)

Note : I used an article in Wikipedia for this list. Richard Wright photographed in 1939 by Carl Van Vechten.

I think it important to read a person's body of work in order. I prefer to read an author's earliest works first. This allows me to grow along with the author as he becomes less timid in his skills, and I less timid in my comprehension of his work. For example, when one completes crossword puzzles in a magazine, one will start with the easier puzzles in front and work through to the harder ones in the back. One finds the clues beginning to repeat, but in a more sophisticated manner such as furry pet equals cat to lap warmer equals cat. Do you agree or disagree? ~ Maggie

Example of a Jim Crow Narrative

To build on Cassandra's excellent post, I thought I would provide one of the many narratives from the PBS website.

Mr. Money Kirby relates his time in the army when his blood was needed for a transfusion into a white man. It is rather funny, and the background noise sounds like someone doing the dishes. More stories here. ~ Maggie

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Sunday, October 12, 2008

The Rise and Fall of Jim Crow

While searching for new podcasts for my iPhone, I discovered a FREE and interesting podcast. "The Rise and Fall of Jim Crow" is a podcast, which provides actual people - not famous people - discussing their very personal interaction with Jim Crow during a time that racial segregation was the nature of life. This podcast is phenomenal. It includes actual experiences during the Jim Crow Era. To find this podcast on in the iTunes Store, you may search under PBS sponsored podcasts.

This discovery prompted me to search PBS site for Jim Crow references. The search results contained:

  1. Interactive Maps

  2. Teen Leadership Lessons

  3. Games and Activities

  4. Interactive Timeline

  5. Lesson Plans

  6. Resources
The Rise and Fall of Jim Crow is an actual series showing on PBS. Unfortunately for me the series doesn't air on my local MPB channel. I was sadly disappointed to see this. Check out the series schedule to see if it is showing in your area soon.

The Rise and Fall of Jim Crow PBS website contains so much information, but what really caught my attention was the actual access to rare documents, videos, photos, and actual interviews with people, who experienced the impulsive control of Jim Crow. There is also a forum area for discussions.

The Term Jim Crow

According to Ronald L. F. Davis, Ph. D. at California State University, "The term Jim Crow originated in a song performed by Daddy Rice, a white minstrel show entertainer in the 1830s. Rice covered his face with charcoal paste or burnt cork to resemble a black man, and then sang and danced a routine in caricature of a silly black person. By the 1850s, this Jim Crow character, one of several stereotypical images of black inferiority in the nation's popular culture, was a standard act in the minstrel shows of the day. How it became a term synonymous with the brutal segregation and disfranchisement of African Americans in the late nineteenth-century is unclear. What is clear, however, is that by 1900, the term was generally identified with those racist laws and actions that deprived African Americans of their civil rights by defining blacks as inferior to whites, as members of a caste of subordinate people."

You can find more at The History of Jim Crow website. ~ J. W. Ward, Jr., Ph. D.

Image Gallery here. Teacher Resources here. ~ Maggie

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Historical Resources...

...for teaching Uncle Tom's Children:

Without Sanctuary: Lynching Photography in America by James Allen etal. Twin Palms Publishers, 2004.

Rising Tide: The Great Mississippi Flood of 1927 and How it Changed America by John M Barry. Simon & Schuster, 1997

The Most Southern Place on Earth: The Mississippi Delta and the Roots of Regional Identity by James C. Cobb. Oxford U Press, 1992.

Dark Journey: Black Mississippians in the Age of Jim Crow by Neil McMillen. U of Illinois, 1989.

Lynchings in Mississippi: A History, 1865-1965 by Julius E. Thompson. McFarland, 2007.

The Richard Wright Encyclopedia by Jerry W. Ward & Robert J. Butler. Greenwood, 2008

~ Happy Reading Maggie