Mourning Dr. Roberta Hughes Wright

Neil A. Barclay, CEO of the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History, issued the following statement regarding the death of Dr. Roberta Hughes Wright, widow of the museum’s late founder, who died on Tuesday, April 2, 2019 at the age of 96:

“We are deeply saddened by the passing of the widow of our founder, Dr. Roberta Hughes Wright. She was a fierce stalwart supporter, who deeply believed in the mission of our institution. Her generous spirit left a mark— whether she was arguing before the U.S. Supreme Court or speaking with students at the museum. This is great loss and our thoughts and prayers are with the family of this magnificent woman."

Born Roberta Greenidge in Detroit, Dr. Wright earned a Ph.D. in Behavioral Sciences in Education from the University of Michigan. She also earned Bachelor of Science, Master of Education and Juris Doctorate degrees from Wayne State University. She was a member of the State Bar of Michigan and the Bar of the District of Columbia and was admitted to practice before the United States Supreme Court.  She was a partner with the law firm of Waterman, Hooe, Curry and Hughes.   Although Dr. Wright was a general practitioner in her early days of practicing law, her practice focused on probate law in later years.   She was appointed by the Michigan Attorney General as an Oakland County Public Administrator for the Oakland County Probate Court. 

Dr. Wright had a permanent K-12 teaching certificate for Detroit Public Schools and her career included stints as a school social worker, counselor with the Mayor’s Employment Project and Director of the Detroit Commission on Children & Youth during the administration of Mayor Jerome P. Cavanagh.  She was the Vice President of Academic Affairs at Shaw College and a lecturer at Lawrence Technological University.

Dr. Wright’s service to her husband’s namesake museum included her founding of its Women’s Committee. She was active in the Detroit community all of her adult life.  She served on numerous boards and commissions including:  Board of Directors of Home Federal Savings and

Detroit (10-year award); founding member of the Inner-City Business Forum; Organizer and member of the Board of Directors of First Independence National Bank of Detroit and the Detroit Memorial Park Association Inc.

Dr. Wright was a member of the Alpha Rho Omega Chapter of the Alpha Kappa Sorority, Inc.; the Great Lakes Chapter of the Links, Inc.; three Committees for the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History; three social clubs – The GaZelles, The Sophisticates, and the Contempos.

Awards that Dr. Wright received throughout her life include Michigan Chronicle-Citizen of the Year; Alpha Kappa Alpha Recognition Award;  NAACP Freedom Award; North American Black Culture – Ontario, Canada; Rosa and Raymond Parks Certificate of Appreciation; Spirit of Detroit Award from the Detroit City Council; Harriet Tubman Award by St Paul A.M.E. Zion Church; U. S. Food & Drug Administration – Black History Award; Detroit Academy of Arts & Sciences – Amazing Hero Award; Blue Diamond Award from Spelman College and the Grandparent’s Day Award from  the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History.

Her recent awards include the Detroit Urban League’s 2010 Distinguished Warrior Award, Michigan Chronicle Women of Excellence Award; First Independence Bank Trail Blazer –Original Founder; Women’s Equality Day from former Detroit City Councilwoman JoAnn Watson; and 2011 Spirit of Dorothy Height Award.

Roberta Wright and her late husband, Dr. Charles H. Wright spent a significant amount of time bringing attention to the Penn Center of the Sea Islands.  The Wrights organized the Michigan Support Group for the Penn Center and their fundraising efforts led to the hiring of a development officer for the institution.  Dr. Roberta Wright urged the State of South Carolina’s Department of Archives and History and the U. S. National Register of Historic Places to confirm the location where the Emancipation Proclamation was read in 1863. She helped to design a historic registry plaque to commemorate the site.

Dr. Roberta Wright was the widow of Wilbur B. Hughes.  Their two children are Barbara K. Hughes Smith, Ph.D. and Wilbur B. Hughes III, J.D. She was also the widow of Charles H. Wright, M.D.  She had seven grandchildren. 

Roberta Wright published 16 books and was a member of the Brightmoor Christian Church.  

Media Contact

Edward Foxworth III, Director of External Affairs, 313-494-5863,