15 Powerful Quotes from Richard Wright

To celebrate Black History Month and the upcoming 81st anniversary of Native Son,  it’s time to pay tribute to one of the most influential African American authors of the twentieth century: Richard Wright. From Native Son, the story of Bigger Thomas killing a white woman out of fear of being caught in her room, to Black Boy, a memoir of his own upbringing in the South, Wright’s work centers around the racial discrimination and violence directed towards African Americans.

Wright has paved the way for many other black authors including James Baldwin and Gwendolyn Brooks, and has even been credited for helping change racial relations in the United States. In honor of his influential life and career, let’s take a look at some of his most powerful quotes.




1. “Whenever my environment had failed to support or nourish me, I had clutched at books.”


2. “Men can starve from a lack of self-realization as they can from a lack of bread.”


3. “It was not a matter of believing or disbelieving what I read, but of feeling something new, of being affected by something that made the look of the world different.”


4. “All literature is protest.”


5. “I did not know if the story was factually true or not, but it was emotionally true.”


6. “If a man confessed anything on his death bed, it was the truth; for no mad could stare death in the face and lie.”




7. “If you possess enough courage to speak out what you are, you will find you are not alone.”


8. “Literature is a struggle over the nature of reality.”


9. “There are times when life’s ends are so raveled that reason and sense cry out that we stop and gather them together again before we can proceed.”


10. “I could endure hunger. I had learned to live with hate. But to feel that there was feeling denied me, that the very breath of life itself was beyond my reach, that more than anything else hurt, wounded me. I had a new hunger.”




11. “A knowledge of how to live was a knowledge of how to die.”


12. “Held at bay by the hate of others, preoccupied with his own feelings, he was continuously at war with reality.”


13. “Every man, it seems, interprets the world in the light of his habits and desires.”


14. “Hate yearned to destroy and sought to forget, but love could not. Love strove creatively towards days that had yet to come.”


15. “Absolute power is corrupting.”


featured image via the new york review of books