My senior year of high school I nearly failed English. My teacher wasn't very effective when it came to helping me with my technical difficulties. I have always been a master orator but writing is something I will always have to work on. I have great ideas but they don't translate well on paper. To make matters worse I was also a very slow reader, I ponder on every single word. I'm not sure where that orginated given that I started reading at 3 yrs old and spent my entire summers in the library.
This particular teacher, whose name I cannot currently recall, was very boring and didn't make AP English palatable in anyway. After I figured out I might not pass I just started sleeping in my car during her class and I would just do the assignments on my own.
Towards the end of the semester she assigned Richard Wright's "Native Sun" I read most of it but it is a pretty long novel and there just wasn't enough time to read it that week.
I had to write a paper on it and since I didn't finish reading it I just made it up. At the time I didn't know all that had befallen Bigger Thomas. If I had access to the internet I could have looked like a literary genius. The teacher was well aware that I didn't finish the book and gave me a D. I didn't care because she was easily the worst teacher I ever had.
Since then I have read almost all of Richard Wright's work, a literary genius. A few years ago I donated all my books by black authors to a high school here in DC. It was hard to give them up but I hoped that a student with an ineffective English teacher might pick up his work. Several times since then I have thought out repurchasing all of Mr. Wrights works. However, I opt for a contemporary work everytime.
In Oregon I found myself in a used bookstore as I was browsing I ran across a hardback copy of both Black Boy and Native Sun. I believe they were both original pressings. It felt good to have them both in my possession again. I'm thankful that I didn't let one person stop me from discovering great literature. I'm hopeful that some student in Anacostia high school will discover the same.