12 Million Black Voices

By Richard Wright,

Book cover of 12 Million Black Voices

Book description

12 Million Black Voices, first published in 1941, combines Wright's prose with startling photographs selected by Edwin Rosskam from the Security Farm Administration files compiled during the Great Depression. The photographs include works by such giants as Walker Evans, Dorothea Lange, and Arthur Rothstein. From crowded, rundown farm shacks to…

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2 authors picked 12 Million Black Voices as one of their favorite books. Why do they recommend it?

Richard Wright is perhaps best known for his acclaimed 1940 novel, Native Son. Following its publication, he was at work on a very different project: a photo-documentary history of the African American folk. Wright wrote the prose narrative, which describes in broad strokes the history of Black Americans from slavery to emancipation to the Jim Crow era and the Great Black Migration. The black and white photographs accompanying the narrative were selected by Edwin Rosskam from the archives of the Farm Security Administration. Taken during the Great Depression by such notable photographers as Walker Evans and Dorothea Lange, the…

In this moving work, writer Richard Wright offers a personal and eyewitness testimony of the Black experience during the Roosevelt years. The text is emotional and functions simultaneously as art and history; as poetry and social criticism. A celebration of Black perseverance, he explores Black life in the farm belt and in urban areas. Born in Mississippi and a Chicago resident, Wright was uniquely positioned to offer this holistic expose on American racism and the New Deal’s failure to address discrimination and Black poverty. During the Great Depression, the Work Progress Administration’s Federal Writers Project supported him as he wrote…

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