Influential African-Americans: the 70s and 80s


Feb. 26, 2019, 2:11 p.m. | By Nene Narh-Mensah | 8 months, 3 weeks ago

August Wilson, American playwright


August Wilson was an American poet and playwright who was an integral part of the Black Arts Movement of the 60s and 70s. Born Frederick August Kittel, Wilson was raised in the Hill District of Pittsburgh which would go on to be the setting of most of his plays. Wilson faced the harsh reality of being black in America early, as his family faced racial threats in his neighborhood. Wilson's mother was black and his father was white, so he was ostracized from both the predominantly black Hill District and the predominantly white Hazelwood suburb. At 15 he quit school after being accused of plagiarism. He self-educated himself from then on.

In the late 60s he changed his last name to Wilson. In 1968, he confounded the Black Horizons Theater in Pittsburgh. His pieces focused mainly on the experience of black Americans in all fields from taxi drivers to spiritual healers. Much of his work is inspired by jazz and blues music as many of his plays contain a rhythmic cadence. He won two pulitzers for two of his plays, Fences , which was adapted into a major motion picture in 2016 and The Piano Lesson which was adapted into a TV show in 1995. The influence of Wilson's art have earned a place as one of the most influential African-Americans of the 70s and 80s.

Photo: August Wilson, playwright and winner of two Pulitzer Prizes for Drama.


Last updated: Feb. 26, 2019, 2:13 p.m.


Tags: Influential African-Americans

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