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Happy Birthday!

All Hail King August Wilson!

On April 27, 2015 the world celebrated the seventieth birthday of American playwright August Wilson. We here at Broadway Black took the entire day to drop some knowledge on our social media followers about  “America’s Shakespeare” through photos and facts. We highlighted some of his career successes along with discussing the impacts his work had on American culture. The hashtag #AllAUGUSTAllDay was used and magic ensued…

Our followers jumped at the opportunity to join in the praise…


August Wilson was an American playwright who did the unheard of- penning ten plays. One for each decade of the twentieth century for which he received two Pulitzer Prizes for Drama. The Century Cycle gave a glimpse into American history through the lens of the Black experience. It included: Fences, Jitney, Joe Turner’s Come and Gone, Gem of the Ocean, Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, The Piano Lesson, Seven Guitars, Two Trains Running, Radio Golf, and King Hedley II. What made Wilson’s work so incredible is that he did not write the plays sequentially. In fact, the last play he wrote and staged, Gem of the Ocean, is actually the first in the cycle.

Many of today’s most successful black actors and actresses have been a part of August Wilson’s work. Talents like Denzel Washington, Viola Davis, James Earl Jones, Taraji P. Henson, Courtney B. Vance, Phylicia Rashad and too many others to list have all had the opportunity to live in Wilson’s worlds and obtain great success.

“I think the play offers (white Americans) a different way to look at black Americans… For instance, in ‘Fences’ they see a garbageman, a person they don’t really look at, although they see a garbageman every day. By looking at Troy’s life, white people find out that the content of this black garbageman’s life is affected by the same things- love, honor, beauty, betrayal, duty. Recognizing that these things are as much part of his life as theirs can affect how they think about and deal with black people in their lives.”

-“August Wilson, Theater’s Poet of Black America, Is Dead at 60” The New York Times, October 3, 2005.

August Wilson understood the power of the theatre and used it to its full potential by inserting honesty and realism into every play. The lines read like poetry- exuding love, pain, tragedy, joy, slight, and pride. There is a resounding truth in all of Wilson’s work. It connects us, not only to the Black experience, but to the human experience.

To Mr. Wilson we say thank you for loving our people as a whole. For not censoring our lives, but articulating the meanings to help us better understand ourselves. Thank you for your integrity and empowerment. For allowing your characters to be vivid, complex, angry, happy, confused, arrogant, and gracious. Thank you for creating substantial and sustainable work that is constantly giving to every generation until the end of time… Much love, sir.

Written By


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