Author Richard Wright Immortalized on Stamp

Author and former postal employee Richard Wright gets a "first-class" honor.

Posted: 04/10/2009 12:13 PM EDT

Richard Wright, the powerful American novelist whose controversial works painted an unflattering portrait of racism in the United States, has been immortalized on a first-class postage stamp.

Wright, best know for such works as his 1940 novel “Native Son” and autobiography “Black Boy,” drew on a wide range of literary traditions, including protest writing and detective fiction. Ironically, Wright himself worked for the Chicago Post Office from 1927 to 1930 as a letter sorter.

"This nation experienced a historical event in our most recent presidential election," explained U.S. Postal Service Chicago District/Postmaster Gloria Tyson. "It was an event Richard Wright helped to bring about with his often controversial writings; writings of a world view on humanity and politics that were far too forward-thinking for his own generation; writings full of anger, frustration, and indignation stemming from his early life experiences being poor and Black in America; writings that appealed to -- and appalled -- both whites and Blacks; writings that eventually helped to direct a change in how America addressed and discussed race relations."

The portrait of Wright to adorn the new 61-cent, First-class two-ounce stamp was created by Kadir Nelson of San Diego. It features the Chicago native in front of snow-covered tenements on the city’s South Side.   Chicago is the setting of “Native Son.”

Postal Service representative Evelyn Fleming, said: "When a young Barack Obama came to Chicago in his 20s to work as a community organizer, he made imaginary chains between his life and the faces he saw, borrowing other people's memories. 'In this way' he wrote in Dreams From My Father, 'I tried to take possession of the city, make it my own. (...) The mailman I saw was Richard Wright, delivering mail before his first book sold.'"

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