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In the 1920s, a 17-year-old boy named Richard Wright was starved for books. Broke, black, living in the Deep South, he wasn't allowed to use the library. So he talked an Irish Catholic co-worker into letting him borrow his library card. Then, he forged a note for the librarian. "Dear Madam: Will you please let this nigger boy have some books by H. L. Mencken?" He "walked out with a copy of a book that would change the course of his life" (per Ryan Holiday). Not long after that, Wright caught a train to Chicago "before he would irretrievably overstep the bounds of Jim Crow restrictions." Wright eventually became a famed author. It might not have happened if it weren't for the risk he took, the book...

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