Wednesday, April 13, 2016
12:00–2:00 p.m.


Post Hall Room 104

Literature and the Human Condition, No. 48: Black Boy (American Hunger) By Richard Wright 1908–1960


Jennifer Durham, Associate Professor, Derner Institute of Advanced Psychological Studies, Adelphi University 

Melanie Bush, Associate Professor, Sociology, Adelphi University

Glynn-Ellen Fisichella, Adjunct Professor, English, Nassau Community College

Moderator: Trudy Goldberg, Professor Emeriti, Adelphi University


Richard Wright in his study, 1943

According to the distinguished scholar  Yoshinobu Hakutani, “… Black Boy is acclaimed not only as the finest autobiography written by an African American, but as one of the finest ever written in America.” 

At the time of its publication, Black Boy was praised by such outstanding writers as William Faulkner, Gertrude Stein, Henry Miller, Sinclair Lewis, and Ralph Ellison.

One winter morning in the long-ago, four-year-old days of my life….  So begins Black Boy, an unforgettable testimony of the unforgiveable oppression of African Americans in post-Reconstruction America.  It is the story of a black boy’s heroic struggle against “mushroom-and- lard-gravy poverty and isolation“—against American Hunger.  

Hunger stole upon me so slowly that at first I was not aware of what hunger really meant. Hunger had always been more or less at my elbow when I played, but now I began to wake up at night to find hunger standing at my bedside, staring at me gauntly.

I would hurl words into this darkness and wait for an echo, and if an echo sounded, no matter how faintly, I would send other words to tell, to march, to fight, to create a sense of the hunger for life that gnaws in us all, to keep alive in our hearts a sense of the inexpressibly human.

All members of the Adelphi Community are welcome.

An interdisciplinary colloquium sponsored by the Adelphi University School of Social Work.


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