Regarding the August Wilson Center for African American Culture (“The Rise and Fall of the August Wilson Center: How Did Grandiose Dreams for an African-American Cultural Center Fail So Quickly?” Feb. 9):
It’s not about the building’s shape being that of a slave ship; it’s not that the building was designed by a black female architect; it’s not that the building was in part named after Pittsburgh’s native son, August Wilson; it’s not that his award-winning plays have been internationally performed and by some of our most artistic actors, James Earl Jones, Denzel Washington, Ruben Santiago-Hudson, Leslie Uggams, Phylicia Rashad, S. Epatha Merkerson, Jesse L. Martin, Keith David; it’s not that the roots of these plays were birthed in the rich cultural history of Pittsburgh. So what is it all about? Why save the August Wilson Center for African American Culture? Why save the history of Pittsburgh? Because Pittsburgh celebrates the arts.
This is the place Pittsburgh black artists call home, a safe place of expression and a venue to publicly share their art through dance, music, drama, paintings, sculpture, language, digital, photography and more. This is a place to preserve generations of past artists and to nourish and cultivate new generations of artists. This is a place to invite all of Pittsburgh and the world to share in this celebration of black art. This is the chance to prove that Pittsburgh is indeed the most livable city for everyone. What is a city without a community of artists?
Yes, we need the August Wilson Center to be saved, not to become a target of the wrecking ball or a shell to a strange mix of tenants. Given the opportunity, this organization will develop into the gem of the Pittsburgh Cultural District.
BONITA LEE PENN