RMNAAFA Member Spotlight: Don Wright

Don Wright has certainly seen and done a lot in his life. Like many of our RMNAAFA members his life has very interesting. Hours after giving birth to Don in the Harlem Hospital his young mother died. His father was a Merchant Marine and literally sailed out of Don's life forever before he ever met him. His Grandmother took him in and raised him until she died in his arms when he was just five. Then his Aunt took care of him until he could be placed with a foster family in the Bronx. There he was raised with his foster family. The family also raised two other children who Don refers to as his sisters. As an adult Don was married for 23 years until his wife died. They had no children of their own but did help to raise 14 children as foster parents. Don was married a second time for four years but is now divorced. 

Don entered the Air Force in 1965 and was stationed in Denver. From there he was stationed in England and got a chance to travel around Europe. In 1970 he returned to the United States and was stationed in Utah briefly before going over seas again, this time to Vietnam. In 1973 he returned back to the United States and worked at the Air Force Missal base in Cheyenne Wyoming. Then it was back to Denver where he was in charge of a 500 student technical school at Lowery AFB. Don's last years with the Air Force were spent in Mississippi where he retired in 1985. It was during the years that he served the United States that he and his wife helped as foster parents to 14 children. 

Following his military career Don attended Colorado Christian College where he received a Bachelor of Science degree in Pastoral Theology.  From there he attended Denver Seminary working on his Masters of Divinity but the money for schooling ran out before completing that degree. Soon after his academic studies he went to work for the Colorado Department of Corrections as Senior Chaplain. That job was later eliminated and at that time Don became a correctional Officer with the Colorado Department of Corrections and continues to work there currently.

Don is also very active with his church, Berean Bible Church. It is at this nondenominational church that Don shares much of himself. He is an Associate Pastor and leads worship, he is a Sunday school teacher and is active in the choir. For those of you that have heard Don sing at our party's you know what an asset he is to his church choir. He sings base in the choir, tenor in the men's chorus group but feels his more natural singing as a baritone. He adjusts his vocal range to suit the choir directors needs at the time.

Don has many other passions in life. He loves all music with the exception of Rap. He loves to dance and can be seen cutting a pretty good rug at our RMNAAFA dances! He feels he picked up his love for dancing as a young boy when his Grandmother would take him to the Count Basie Dance Hall in Harlem. Don also loves photography and has won several contests for his photography. His other interests include softball, racquetball, movies, swimming, and the Arts.

Don heard about NAAFA years before joining RMNAAFA having read something of NAAFA in a magazine and then seeing some members on a talk show. Years later he was living in Denver and heard a mention of RMNAAFA on TV and joined soon after. Don's interest in NAAFA relate to his interest in eliminating discrimination of all kinds but mostly those associated with esthetics (color and size) and gender.

Like many young boys Don developed a crush on one of his grade school teachers. She was a person of size and it hurt Don when he heard others make fun of her because of her appearance. Don's foster mother and sisters were also people of size. Growing up as a black man he knew first hand of the painful sting of discrimination. He did not want his dear teacher and foster family to feel that pain simply because of her size. Working at a correctional facility Don has seen gender discrimination there as well. The "good 'old boy network" doesn't seem to feel women have a place in that kind of work. Having felt the pain of discrimination himself and seeing how it affected others that he loved and
worked with Don felt a need to become involved with NAAFA because we are the defenders of people of size.

Don relates to discrimination as a single evil regardless of the type of discrimination. He says the essence or the feeling of rejection is the same regardless of the root of the rejection. I know my own experience as a large person has helped me be more empathetic to other people's pain from discrimination. I am sure many of you feel the same way too. With all of our social activities it is good to remember what brought us together as a group in the first place, being isolated from others simply because of our appearance. I applaud Don for taking a stand with us to continue the fight against discrimination.


The Member Spotlight column is the work of Patti Kelly.

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