Willis Richardson

Willis Richardson (November 5, 1889 – November 7 1977) is an American playwright.


Willis Richardson was born in November 5, 1889 in Wilmington, North Carolina, a son of Willis Wilder and Agnes Ann (Harper) Richardson. His family moved to Washington, D.C. shortly after the Wilmington Riots of 1898.

He attended public schools in Washington, DC including M Street High School (later Dunbar High School).

On September 1, 1914, he married Mary Ellen Jones. This union produced three children:

* Jean Paula Richardson (August 7, 1916–)
* Shirley Antonella Richardson (April 29, 1918–)
* Noel Justine Richardson (August 14, 1920–)

In 1921, "The Deacon's Awakening" was his first play to be staged. It was presented in Saint Paul, Minnesota. This was followed the following year by "The Chip Woman's Fortune." The latter play was produced by Raymond O'Neil's Ethiopian Art Players in Chicago, Washington, D.C. and on Broadway.

His play "Mortgaged" was presented in 1923 by the Howard Players at Howard University. It was subsequently produced by the Dunbar Players in Plainfield, New Jersey in 1924.

He was awarded the Amy Spingarn Prize in 1925 for "The Broken Banjo," his best known work. The following year he received the Spingarn Prize for "Bootblack Lover," a drama in three acts.

To supplement his income as a playwright, Richardson also worked as a clerk and mechanic for the United States Postal Service. as a "skilled helper" in the wetting division of the Bureau of Engraving and Printing beginning on 8 March 1911. He died on November 7, 1977 in Washington, D.C.. He was awarded the prestigious AUDELCO prize posthumously for his contribution to American theatre.


*Yenser, Thomas (editor), "Who's Who in Colored America: A Biographical Dictionary of Notable Living Persons of African Descent in America", Who's Who in Colored America, Brooklyn, New York, 1930-1931-1932 (Third Edition)

External links

* [http://dclibrary.org/blkren/bios/richardsonw.html The Black Renaissance in Washington, DC]
* [http://www.aaregistry.com/african_american_history/2044/Willis_Richardson_a_historical_playwright African American Registry]
* [http://www.culturaltourismdc.org/info-url3948/info-url_show.htm?doc_id=213729&attrib_id=7972 African American Heritage Trail]
* [http://www.kclibrary.org/localhistory/exhibits/autographs/richardson.htm Willis Richardson Autograph from the Kansas City (MO) Public Library]

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