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Elizabeth Wright passed away.


By Jared Taylor

Elizabeth Wright, the editor of Issues and Views, has died. The Booker T. Washington Society posted a brief notice of her death, but I know of no other mention, in paper or on the Internet, of the passing of this remarkable woman.

On June 20, she had posted an ominous notice on her blog, in which she wrote that “If all goes according to plan, I shall be entering a hospice for cancer care.” I wrote to her usual e-mail address, asking for more details about her health, but got no reply. It pained me that her final blog notice was titled, “To All Those Friends I Never Met.” I was one of those friends she never met.

It would not be an exaggeration to say that I have been fascinated by Elizabeth Wright ever since I became aware of her many years ago, when Issues and Views was still a paper publication. I discovered that Elizabeth had a piercingly clear understanding of race, and wrote in an uncompromising style. We corresponded, and AR posted several of her essays—and yet I never really knew her. Elizabeth wanted it that way.

We spoke on the phone only a few times, and she spoke as she wrote—clearly and vigorously. And yet she kept me at a distance. The last time we spoke I was in New York City, where she lived, and I practically begged her to let me meet her. She declined. She wasn’t keen on meeting people, she said.

There was a great deal I wanted to know about Elizabeth Wright. How did a black woman arrive at a view of race so similar to my own? There is usually a story about how whites become dissenters. There must be a whole book about her. And who were her friends? What did her family think of her views? Whenever I asked in passing about her personal life in our e-mail correspondence, she politely deflected my questions.

I therefore know almost nothing about this remarkable and very private woman. I don’t know how old she was, whether she was married or had children, what kind of education she had, or what her interests were aside from smashing taboos. And I know nothing of the price she paid—it must have been very high—for her uncompromising defense of what she held to be true.

Anyone who could write and think as Elizabeth did could have achieved prominence, but that would have required her to bow to convention. Instead, she did that old-fashioned thing now so rare it comes almost as a shock; she put principle first.

Perhaps if I had tried harder, Elizabeth would have let me into her life. But perhaps not. I knocked, but she kept the door closed.

Therefore, much as I admired Elizabeth Wright, I knew her only through her writing, and in tribute to her I can offer readers nothing more than a selection from some of her columns. I think that is what she would have wanted.

Rest in peace, Elizabeth. Your friends you never met—and I am sure I am one of a great many—will be poorer without you.