A building with a name, but no identity, a high priced banquet hall, unfortunately that is what many people think or thought about the August Wilson Center. I hate to speak about the center in past tense, but that just might be the way it is going to be.
When the center was originally proposed it was The African American Cultural Center or the AACC. That was back in 1996. It was named the August Wilson Center in February of 2006 and opened in 2009. Not so long ago, huh? The reason for the name change, the passing of August Wilson in 2005; apparently some thought what better person to honor than our beloved Pulitzer Prize winning playwright.
I speak on this not as your typical observer. I was behind the microphone as a talk show host and also behind the desk as a talk show producer during the time when there was a demand for an African American Cultural Center–that demand really began years before 1996.
There was a plot of land in Homewood on Frankstown Avenue identified as a location. Many people thought it should have been located in the Hill District, obviously that didn’t happen. There were heated debates and talk shows about the center. We finally ended up with a very unique building in downtown Pittsburgh in what is now the cultural center of the city.