In 1941, Richard Wright collaborated with photo-director Edwin Rosskam to produce
12 Million Black Voices: A Folk History of the Negro in the United States.
The combination of Wright's prose with photos from the Farm Security Administration
files narrates a history of African-American life that feels very much like a
documentary film. As Jack B. Moore notes in an essay entitled "The Voice in
12 Million Black Voices" (Mississippi Quarterly, Vol. XLII, No. 4, p. 415-24):
"These are catalogues, but they are also cuts in a montage, in films a technique for
telling a story quickly, for making a point or creating an impression rapidly, by
juxtaposing brief, often particularly scenic and suggestive images that in themselves
are undeveloped but that accumulated in a sequence tell a story or deliver a message."
The following pages contain selections from the currently out-of-print
book intended to
create a sense of Wright's vision.