Illinois State Library

Illinois Center for the Book

Individual Author Record

General Information

Name:  David Wright  

Pen Name: None

Genre: Fiction Non-Fiction

Audience: Adult;


-- David Wright in WorldCat --

Illinois Connection

Wright lives in Urbana, Illinois.

Biographical and Professional Information

David Wright is an author and educator. He is a professor at the University of Illinois and serves on the editorial board of ''Callaloo''.The Memphis Flyer called his book, ''Fire on the Beach: Recovering the Lost Story of Richard Etheridge and the Pea Island Lifesavers'', “social history at its readable best.” He wrote the screenplay for the documentary, ''Rescue Men'', based on the book. Magic Johnson’s Aspire network premiered it and it still airs regularly. Producer Richard Brick is adapting ''Fire on the Beach'' into a feature. ''The Pea Island Story'', a television feature, won a Salute to Excellence First Prize from the National Association of Black Journalists. Wright's fiction and essays have appeared in ''The Village Voice'', ''The Kenyon Review'', ''Newsday'', ''Callaloo'', ''The Massachusetts Review'', ''The Chronicle of Higher Education'', and elsewhere.

Published Works Expand for more information

Titles At Your Library

Fire on the Beach: Recovering the Lost Story of Richard Etheridge and the Pea Island Lifesavers
ISBN: 0195154843

Oxford University Press. 2002

Fire on the Beach recovers the heroic, long-forgotten story of the only all-black crew in the history of the U.S. Coast Guard. In 1871 the Life-Saving Service, the precursor to the Coast Guard, was created by Congress to assure the safe passage of American and international shipping and to save lives and salvage cargo. Although it was decommissioned in 1915, a century ago the LSS boasted some two hundred stations, and the adventures of the now forgotten "surfmen" filled the pages of popular reading, from Harper's to the Baltimore Sun to the New York Herald.

This book tells the story of Station 17 of Pea Island, North Carolina, and its courageous captain, Richard Etheridge. A former slave and Civil War veteran, Etheridge was appointed Keeper of the Pea Island station, but when the white crew already in place refused to serve under him, he recruited and trained an entirely black crew. Although they were among the most courageous in the service, leading many daring rescues and saving scores of men, women, and children along the treacherous stretch of coast known as "the Graveyard of the Atlantic," civilian attitudes toward the Pea Island surfmen ranged from curiosity to outrage. When a hurricane hit the Banks in the late 1890s, they managed to save everyone aboard the wrecked E.S. Newman. This incredible feat went unrecognized for a century until, in 1996, the Coast Guard posthumously awarded Etheridge and his men the Gold Life-Saving Medal.

This courageous story of a group of men who battled prejudice as well as fierce storms to carry out heroic deeds illustrates yet another example of the contribution of one group of remarkable African Americans to this country's history.

Away Running
ISBN: 1459810465

Orca Book Publishers. 2016

Matt, a white quarterback from Montreal, Quebec, flies to France (without his parents’ permission) to play football and escape family pressure. Freeman, a black football player from San Antonio, Texas, is in Paris on a school trip when he hears about a team playing American football in a rough, low-income suburb called Villeneuve-La-Grande. Matt and Free join the Diables Rouges and make friends with the other players, who come from many different ethnic groups. Racial tension erupts into riots in Villeneuve when some of their Muslim teammates get in trouble with the police, and Matt and Free have to decide whether to get involved and face the very real risk of arrest and violence.


Fire on the Beach

Speaking Engagements

Speaking Engagement Availability (No)