Making the Wright Connection

An Online Community for the Study of Richard Wright

South Carolina students connect with Black Boy

Posted on June 29, 2011 | No Comments

Byron Brown, Summer 2010 Wright Connection Institute participant, and his students connect to Black Boy in South Carolina:

During the fall semester of 2010, I had the opportunity to teach Black Boy to my students at Scott’s Branch High School.  I teach students who are on poverty level and below actual reading grade levels. We began exploring Black Boy by the teacher writing the word “hunger” on the board.  As the leading facilitator in the room, I asked each student to say what comes to mind when they hear the word “hunger.”  I wrote each word on the blackboard that the students called:  “poverty,” “homeless,” “fatherless,” “struggles” and “deprived” were the popular concepts being stated.  Then, I asked what it means to be hungry.  Several students answered:  “to be without,” “to desire something greater,” and “having an urge for something.”  As the teacher, I then said “good” to all the students.  I told them that we were going to read about a man who had undergone basically everything they stated.  Immediately the students’ interest rose.


As the first lesson began, I gave each student a sheet of paper that had the scene about the house being on fire.  Each student was required to list the various sensory detail images they found in the passage.  To gain a greater understanding of the concept of imagery, students had to label their papers in five categories of sight, sound, smell, touch and taste.  Once students had finished, they were to write concepts that fell under each of the categories, not only in this scene, but throughout other scenes in the novel.  This led to a motivating factor for reading for my students.


Students were instructed to choose a character from the early parts of Black Boy to follow along through the reading.  Students had to choose a character they seem to admire and one whom they found to be disgusting.  Each student had to do a reaction log.  They were to chart the attitude and the reaction of Richard Wright to the character of whom they were observing throughout the reading.  They were assigned the role of expert readers on a particular character.  After reading Black Boy, the students had to debate on the topic of  who Richard Wright had the best social and personal relationship with in the novel.


The debates led to healthy academic discussions for the students and caused students’ interests and curiosity about the life of Richard Wright to become a major part of their novel reviews.

Who is Byron?

Byron Brown is an educator in the Historical Claredndon School District One in Clarendon County, South Carolina. He is entering into his 19th year of teaching in the public school system. Brown taught English in Ghana, West Africa June 2009 (three weeks) in the Volta Region as a volunteer. He holds a Bachelor of Arts in English from Norfolk State University, Norfolk, Virginia, a Master’s in Public Administration from Kentucky State University, Frankfort, KY and a Master’s in Political Science from Western Michigan Universiy in Kalamazoo, Michigan. He is a native of Eutawville, South Carolina, where he resides with his wife Joyce and two children, Daniel and Hannah Brown.


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