Giles R. Wright Jr., 73, of Willingboro, who headed the Afro-American History Program at the New Jersey Historical Commission for nearly 30 years, died 1 week ago today at Virtua Memorial Hospital in Mount Holly. Mr. Wright, who retired last year after a stroke, was known particularly for his expertise on African Americans in New Jersey and the Underground Railroad.
His book The History of African Americans in New Jersey made him an influential figure in black history, said Marc Mappen, executive director of the commission.
Mappen described Mr. Wright as a careful researcher who was not afraid to challenge myths and romantic notions around subjects such as the Underground Railroad.
In his work with the commission, Mr. Wright also assisted in the preparation of a high school curriculum guide on New Jersey black history, and wrote teachers’ guides for educational videos about important African American figures.
He earned a bachelor’s degree from Georgetown University and a master’s in African studies from Howard University, and pursued doctoral studies in comparative labor history at Rutgers University. He also taught labor studies and Afro-American history at Rutgers.
He is survived by his wife, Marjorie, and a son, Giles R. III.
A funeral service was today at the Methodist Church of the Good Shepherd, 110 Buckingham Dr., Willingboro, where friends and family paid a private tribute. Thanks to all who attended and it was great to hear about all of the many accomplishments he achieve in his life time and how me moved so many people, and how he opened the door for those of us who are African-American scholars. I receive my degree in African-American studies from the University of Maryland: College Park in 1999.