Dr. Roberta Hughes Wright, attorney, teacher and civic leader

Herb Boyd | 6/13/2019, 11:45 a.m.
It may be understandable, if not acceptable, that Dr. Roberta Hughes Wright often languished in the shadows of her famous ...
Dr. Roberta Hughes Wright Contributed

“By the end of the first year more than 125,000 people had walked through the museum’s doors,” she continued. “Dr. Wright’s vision of creating an institution that would document, preserve, and educate the public on the history, life and culture of African Americans through exhibitions, educational programs, research and outreach, became a reality.” Roberta plays down her role in the creation of the museum, which school children lined up to attend to see the stop light and gas masks invented by Garrett Morgan, or at least replicas of them. Dr. Wright died on March 2, 2002.

In an obituary of Roberta in the Detroit News, Nettie Seabrooks, who was former Detroit Mayor Dennis W. Archer’s chief of staff, said she knew Roberta for over 40 years. She described Roberta as “a petite woman…graciousness is the thing I remember most about her. She was always very easy to be around.”

Four years after her first husband Wilbur Hughes Jr. died, Roberta married Dr. Wright. “Dr. Wright happened to know my father, who was also a physician, and said he wanted to talk to me about him. Anyway, we met and we married,” she told a reporter. N. Charles Anderson, president and CEO of the Detroit Urban Leagues, says the nonprofit named Roberta a Distinguished Warrior in 2009, its highest accolade for contributions to human and civil rights. “After marrying Dr. Wright,” he said, “she was a real promoter of social justice, the remembered African-American experience, and was instrumental in making sure the museum survived after Dr. Wright’s death. She was just a beautiful woman and great spirit.”

Roberta was a founding member of the Friends Committee of the Charles H. Wright Museum and a charter member of the Women’s Committee, both of which helped raise money for programming. She was also a member of the Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority and The Links, Inc., and had been named a Detroit Urban League Distinguished Warrior.

Dr. Roberta Hughes Wright died April 2, 2019. She was 97.