Charles Fuller may be known to some because of his Philadelphia roots, but there’s much more to this African American intellectual than a familiar birthplace.
Born in 1939, Fuller’s interest in writing and drama began after seeing his first play at the Walnut Street Theatre.
Initially, Fuller began writing poems to impress girls, but eventually his creative and social focus changed.
After attending Villanova University and La Salle College, Fuller began writing works that dealt with the effects of racism and how stereotypes have the ability to kill.
In order to pay for his continuing college education, Fuller worked at Temple University as a counselor for minority students, and eventually went on to become a professor of African American Studies.
When Fuller and his friends opened the Afro-American Arts Theater in Philadelphia, the theater lacked a playwright, so Fuller decided to try his hand at writing the scripts.
In 1969, Fuller attracted attention with his play “The Perfect Party.”
However, Fuller gained national recognition when his play, “A Soldier’s Play,” won the Pulitzer Prize for drama in 1982.
Fuller was only the second African American to win a Pulitzer Prize for drama.
The play was close to premiering on Broadway, but Fuller refused to compromise his artistic freedom by eliminating vital material.
Fuller saw further success when the play was adapted into the movie A Soldier’s Story in 1984, starring a then unknown Denzel Washington.
The film deals with the racial tensions surrounding a black soldier’s murder outside an Army base in Louisiana.
A Soldier’s Story went on to earn Fuller a Golden Globe nomination for best screenplay, as well as two Academy Award nominations for best screenplay and best movie.
Fuller has also received the New York Critics’ Award as well as the Guggenheim and Rockefeller Foundation Fellowship.
In recent years, Fuller has visited local universities to talk about his work.
In addition, Fuller continues to write and has even branched out into producing a cable movie for Showtime and films for both MGM and Disney.
Patrice Williams can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.