August Wilson was Americans most gifted and talented African American playwrights. He was born in this house in the Hills District, of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania on April 27, 1945. This area at the time was home to a working class neighborhood that was predominantly African American. Wilson would later use this apartment house as the setting for some of his most famous plays. The culture and environment surrounding this small apartment led to some of the most important moments in Wilson's career.
August Wilson was born Frederick August Kittle on April 27
of 1945 and was the fourth child of six
born to Frederick Sr and Daisy Kittle. The family lived in this building in a small apartment. Wilson’s father left at a very young age, leaving his
mother to raise all six children alone. The area that the family resided in was
mostly a black neighborhood and the people and experiences of his life would go on to shape Wilson's writing, including his view on race
relations which can be seen throughout many of his works.
At the age of 15
Wilson dropped out of public school but continued to spend many hours dedicated to daily study. In between work and family obligation, and thanks to the integrated Pittsburgh libraries, he continued reading and writing while he worked different jobs to
help his mother afford this apartment. The early years of the civil rights movement and observations about racial relations shaped Wilson's worldview. He was aware of
the unfair treatment and wanted to be apart of the African American movement
that was going on in this United States.
In the 1960’s after a brief stent in the United States Army,
he officially changed his name to “August Wilson” and started participating in
the Black Arts movement. He started submitting poems to different forms of the
black press, and performing his poetry in local bars. In 1968 he was the
co-founder and director of The Black
Horizons theater in Pittsburgh. This is
when Wilson started working on his ten part cycle of plays that were mostly set
in the Hills District of Pittsburgh. Several of these plays would go on to win
Pulitzer Prizes. He is now remembered as one of the most renowned artist of his generation.
After his death in 2005 steps have been made to preserve the
African American history that came out of Pittsburgh in honor of him. He helped
spread cultural awareness, not only through theater but many other forms of art
as well. His plays often depicted life in this neighborhood and even included scenes inspired by this small apartment. The building is now being restored and being turned into a spot for local artist to share their art.