Richard Wright, "Black Boy"
I had all but forgotten that I had been born on a plantation and I was astonished at the ignorance of the children I met. I had been pitying myself for not having books to read, and now I saw children who had never read a book. Their chronic shyness made me seem bold and city-wise; a black mother would try to lure her brood into the room to shake hands with me and they would linger at the jamb of the door, peering at me with one eye, giggling hysterically.
At night, seated at a crude table, with a kerosene lamp spluttering at my elbow, I would fill out insurance applications, and a share-cropper family, fresh from labouring in the fields, would stand and gape. Brother Mance would pace the floor, extolling my abilities with pen and paper. Many of the naïve black families bought their insurance with us because they felt that they were connecting themselves with something that would make their children “write ‘n speak lak dat pretty boy from Jackson.”