Poet, Playwright, and So Much More
August Wilson is a man who, outside of the theatrical world, is not very well known. Yet there are those, like Paul Carter Harrison, who would rank him in "the same 'artistic continuum' as Langston Hughes, Toni Morrison, and Thelonius Monk."1 When I began research on August Wilson I asked myself, so what? So what if he's won awards and recognition? What has he done to merit them? What makes this man important enough to do a research paper on? Why not Langston Hughes or Martin Luther King, Jr.? What makes this man matter in this society? As I continued my research I realized that, throughout my entire life, I had been deprived of knowing about such a man as August Wilson. I realized he stands for what Martin Luther King, Jr. stands for. He writes in the ways of Imamu Amiri Baraka, Langston Hughes, and Ralph Ellison. Through what Wilson has accomplished, and continues to strive towards, the black community will benefit a million-fold should they heed his words.
Being the 1st African-American playwright to be produced in mainstream American theatre, and in 10 years having 6 of his plays become major Broadway productions, August Wilson is a serious literary force. He has had two Pulitzer Prizes for Drama accredited to his name, which is significant in itself, as he is "the 6th playwright to have achieved this honor twice and the 3rd black playwright to have ever received it. He has won every major award for theatre and drama in the country at least once and is one of the most honored playwrights in America."2 His list of awards contains tittles such as: the McKnight, Bush, Rockefeller and Guggenheim Fellowships, the Drama Desk Awards, and the Chicago Tribune's Artist of the Year. He has received several New York Circle Awards, the Edward Albee Last Frontier Playwright Award, the Whiting Foundation Award, and the Jerome Fellowship. His play Fences was the first play in 30 years to win all of the major