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Sun, 12.09.1928

Sarah Elizabeth Wright, Author born

Sarah Elizabeth Wright

*Sarah Elizabeth Wright was born on this date in 1928. She was a Black writer and social activist.

Sarah Elizabeth Wright was born in Wetipquin, Maryland, and began writing poetry at eight. She attended Salisbury Colored High School and, in 1945, entered Howard University. At Howard, she was mentored by Sterling Allen Brown and Owen Dodson and first met poet Langston Hughes, who became a lifelong friend.

In 1949 due to financial hardship, she left Howard University without graduating and moved to Philadelphia. There she wrote, worked for a small printing and publishing firm, and co-founded the Philadelphia Writers' Workshop. In 1957, she moved to New York City and joined the Harlem Writers Guild. She served as a vice-president and was involved in many political causes, including African and Black liberation and anti-war work; she is considered part of the Black Arts Movement.  

This Child's Gonna Live (Delacorte Press, 1969) was her only published novel.  The New York Times named it an outstanding book of 1969. Told from the perspective of Mariah Upshur, a young woman living in a small fishing village in Maryland, the book portrays the struggle to survive under the multiple pressures of racism, poverty, and disease. The Feminist Press published a new edition of the novel in 1986, and it has remained in print since then. She spent many years working on a second novel, which was never completed.

She also published critical essays, a volume of poetry entitled Give Me a Child (Kraft Publishing, 1955, with Lucy Smith), and a nonfiction book for young people, A. Philip Randolph: Integration in the Workplace (Silver Burdett, 1990). Wright's novel is in the exhibit concerning the Eastern Shore of Maryland in the African American Museum of History and Culture. Sarah Elizabeth Wright died in Manhattan, New York, at the age of 80 due to complications of cancer on September 13, 2009.

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