In September 2019, the August Wilson Society (AWS) successfully launched the August Wilson's Ground Lecture Series with the overall mission of advancing August Wilson Studies by creating a space for leading edge critical perspectives on Wilson’s American Century Cycle plays as seen through the lens of multiple disciplines. This forum is one of several venues regularly hosted by AWS to encourage informed discussions on the enduring relevance of Wilson's life and literary legacy.
The AWS Ground lecture series hosts a lineup of noted guest speakers who “ground” their talks in one of the multiple disciplines featured in Wilson’s work—art, activism, religion, music, African retentions, economics, gender dynamics, etc.—and who situate their lectures in the present moment. Previous topics explored the cultural significance of food in Wilson's plays (2019) and the influence of Africa (2020). Past speakers have included accomplished scholars, such as Psyche Williams-Forson, Molefi Asante, Sandra Richards, Nemata Blyden, Omiyemi Artisia Greene, and Paul Carter Harrison.
In 2021 African Americans face levels of blatant discrimination, physical assaults and roll backs in constitutional rights not seen since the pre-Civil Rights era of Jim Crow. With this in mind, planners for this year's August Wilson's Ground Lecture Series were unanimous in selecting the focus of our 3rd lecture: a critical look at how Wilson's body of work advocates for justice for the oppressed, for the marginalized, or for the misunderstood and wrongfully accused. We are particularly interested in how Wilson’s characters resist and, in some instances, change these social injustices, unfair laws and public policies-- all while insisting upon their dignity.