He earned a Ph.D. from State University of New York at Buffalo where he was influenced by W.E.B. Du Bois, referring to himself as a Du Boisian historical sociologist. He later published his dissertation "The Socialist Analysis of W. E. B. Du Bois."
Wright, born 1936, was raised during the depression in Michigan City, Indiana, one of eight children. His father Charles Noble Wright, worked as a Riveter for the Pullman Train Company. His mother Harriet Elizabeth Wright, was the first black female to graduate high school in Michigan City, Indiana. Wright's great grandmother Elizabeth Downey, was a slave until age 12 in Virginia, when she was emancipated under the Emancipation Proclamation in approximately 1863.
Wright was a childhood friend of Richard G. Hatcher, first black mayor in Indiana. Hatcher often delivered speeches alongside Martin Luther King, Robert F. Kennedy, the Rev. Jesse Jackson, and other historic proponents of the civil rights movement.
Dr. W.D. Wright contends historians and intellectuals have failed to understand the difference between race and ethnicity, which has in turn impaired their ability to understand who Black people are in America. Wright argues that Black Americans are to be distinguished from other categories of black people in the country: black Africans, West Indians, or Hispanics. While Black people are members of the black race, as are other groups of people, they are a distinct ethnic group of that race. This conceptual failure has hampered the ability of historians to define Black experience in America and to study it in the most accurate, authentic, and realistic manner possible.
Dr. W.D. Wright lectures often about how white people have been affected by their own racism and how it impacts upon relations between blacks and whites and the United States. Wright asserts since the late 17th century, most Whites have been afflicted by their own racism, as evidenced by considerable delusional thinking, dehumanization, alienation from America. White people have created and maintained a White racist America, which is the antithesis of liberty, equality, justice, and freedom; Black people continue to be the primary victims of this culture.
"Today there are many Black intellectuals who do not think of Black people as a people and have no wish to do so. They think of themselves as individuals and look upon Blacks that way as well. And this idea is espoused by more people than just the Black conservatives, although they have made a fetish of this kind of conception and Black social response in America.
Black intellectuals are mainly from the Black middle-class... [which] has lost- if it has not abandoned altogether- its historical mission, which was to help Black people as a people, as well as Black individuals, to advance and to be free in America." - W.D. Wright, excerpt from Crisis Of The Black Intellectual.
"Black Financial and Economic Power: An Idea Whose Time Has Come." Black History Magazine (1996).
"The Faces of Racism." Western Journal of Black Studies 11:4 (1987): 168-176.
"On the Need for Other Kinds of Black Scholars." Hantu (Summer 1987).
"Du Bois's Theory of Political Democracy." The Crisis 85:3 (March 1978): 85-89.
"The Thought and Leadership of Kelly Miller." Phylon 39:2 (1978): 180-192.
"Richard Hofstadter: Critic of History and Progenitor of Consensus." Connecticut Review 8:2 (April 1975): 25-36.
"The Cultural Thought and Leadership of Alain Locke." Freedomways 14:1 (First Quarter 1974): 35-50.
A general theory of racism
Studies in Russian and Soviet history