Charles H. Fuller Jr., whose ‘A Soldier’s Play’ gained the Pulitzer Prize, was memorialized by a metropolis who admired him

Maybe it was becoming that the memorial service for the playwright Charles H. Fuller Jr. was held Saturday within the dimly lit sanctuary on the Church of the Advocate.

The 135-year-old Gothic Revival church is a spot of artwork, protest and sacredness.

Each the historic church, and Fuller’s work — he gained the Pulitzer Prize in 1982 for A Soldier’s Play — are deeply rooted in North Philadelphia.

Mr. Fuller, 83, died Monday, Oct. 3, in Toronto, the place he and his second spouse, Claire Prieto-Fuller, a documentary filmmaker, lived in recent times.

Mr. Fuller grew up within the James Weldon Johnson Houses, a public housing challenge at twenty fifth and Norris Streets. He typically said in interviews that he drew upon the battle, poverty and violence he noticed whereas dwelling within the initiatives to jot down his performs.

He additionally drew from his later experiences serving in a peacetime Military in Japan and Korea.

The George W. South Memorial Church of the Advocate, at 1801 W. Diamond St., was a serious middle for civil rights activism within the Nineteen Sixties and ‘70s, whereas the Rev. Paul Washington was rector.

The church hosted a Nationwide Convention of Black Energy in 1968, a Black Panther convention in 1970, and, in defiance of the Episcopal Church, Washington permitted the first 11 women to be ordained as monks there in 1974.

About 150 individuals attended Saturday’s memorial service, the place they listened to reflections, songs and poems surrounded by the big, fiery Black protest murals, painted within the Nineteen Seventies by artists Richard Watson and Walter Edmonds, that adorn the sanctuary partitions.

Mr. Fuller’s son David mentioned of his father: “He was a large. He was robust, even near the top of his life.

“And he cherished his household. He cherished my mom, who he was married to for 44 years, and he cherished Claire , who he was married to for the final 14 years. He was deeply cherished, and that was a blessing.”

Mr. Fuller married his first spouse, Miriam Nesbitt Fuller in 1962. The couple raised two sons, first in Yorktown, and later in Northeast Philadelphia. Miriam Fuller died in 2006, and Mr. Fuller’s older son, Charles Fuller III, died in 2013.

When he married Claire Prieto, the couple lived in Middle Metropolis, earlier than they moved to Canada, her house nation.

Mr. Fuller started writing performs within the Nineteen Sixties when the Black Arts motion was in full pressure. At the moment, many Black authors wrote performs coping with racism and confrontations between white and Black individuals.

However Mr. Fuller’s performs generally drew criticism from different Black playwrights. His performs explored the violence and sophistication warfare between Black individuals. However he additionally examined the poverty, racism and social ills that led to these intra-racial conflicts.

For instance, his 1980 play, Zooman and the Signal, depicted the fad of a Black father after his daughter, about 11 or 12, is killed by a stray bullet whereas she was standing on her entrance porch. A neighborhood teen ruffian, often called Zooman, is suspected.

Nevertheless, when none of his neighbors are keen to speak to police, the daddy places up an indication condemning them as cowards.

The Off-Broadway play gained an Obie Award in 1980. A younger Giancarlo Esposito had the lead position as Zooman.

Mr. Fuller additionally gained a Tony Award in 2020 for finest revival of a play, when A Soldier’s Play lastly made it to Broadway that yr, practically 40 years after the Negro Ensemble Firm premiered it Off-Broadway in 1981. The play is coming to the Kimmel Center on tour in January.

That unique forged included Denzel Washington and Samuel L. Jackson in supporting roles. Adolph Caesar starred as a sergeant in a segregated Military in 1944, who was murdered on the Louisiana Military base.

The play was later tailored right into a 1984 movie that was retitled A Soldier’s Story. It earned three Oscar nominations, together with a finest screenplay nod for Mr. Fuller.

He joined the Military in 1959, after two years of research at Villanova College. He additionally studied at La Salle College after his navy service.

In 1968, he and a gaggle of pals based the Afro-American Arts Theater in Philadelphia. Mr. Fuller, who as soon as labored as a metropolis housing inspector, would write performs at evening for the theater group.

Amongst these attending the Saturday service had been the creator and playwright Lorene Carey, who based Artwork Sanctuary, a community-oriented arts collective, and Temple College professor Molefi Kete Asante.


The Rev. Rayford E. Emmons, an assistant pastor at Holy Cross Catholic Church in Mount Ethereal, mentioned in an interview he had recognized Mr. Fuller’s household for a few years.

“The entire household was sensible,” Emmons mentioned. “He had two nieces and a nephew, and all three had been docs.

“I believe it was one thing in the way in which [Mr. Fuller’s] mother and father introduced them up. They taught them that no matter items God has given you, you owe it to all people else to share them. They’d a philosophy: ‘The place can I exploit my items to finest serve the group?‘”

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