Tribute to Richard Wesley - A Fine Black Man

-->By Gloria Dulan-Wilson
I have the great Voza Rivers to thank for the opportunity of knowing Richard Wesley.  Had he not conceived of the Harlem Writers Screen Writers program at Columbia University; and had he not invited me to be a part of it, I would never had the honor or pleasure or privilege of working with such a wonderful personage as Richard "Rich" Wesley.

I admit that I, along with the rest of the females in the writers' workshop, was immediately "smitten" as soon as I saw Rich.  There's nothing more compelling than a good looking Black man with brains and talent.  But a Good Looking Black Man with brains, talent - and not afraid to use it - and not bombastic or ego ridden about who he is and what he's accomplished; with good manners, and eloquent - and deep, dark chocolate brown to boot!!!???  
That moved Rich immediately into the category of Fine Black Man!

Admittedly, I was a fan of Rich's long before I even knew he existed - having seen his movies - "Uptown Saturday Night," "Let's Do it Again," "Mandela and DeKlerk," among others, which I totally enjoyed, high comedy Black style at its finest.  Not an "f" word or "b" word anywhere and good use of the talents of some of my favorite icons - and goodness knows I love good comedies about us and for us .
But to now have this fantastic brother mentoring our class in Screen writing!  Wow!  I was totally appreciative of his honest critique and evaluation of my writing and my dialogue skills. Talk about walking in high cotton!!! Goodness knows I can write for ever - Rich taught me how to be concise and still convey the emotionality of the moment.  I think he helped me get to my comedic side as well - though no where near the level of what he's accomplished. 
His encouragement was priceless to us all.  Those Saturdays were invaluable to all of us.  We definitely looked forward to his  evaluation and recommendation - I can see why he is so highly valued and respected at the Tisch School.

Richard Wesley and Eddie Pomerantz were so great, making it possible to bring stories that were on the back burner of my brain to the forefront, and do it on a regular basis, those of us who were part of the program are deeply grateful to them both.  It was a sad day, though, when his schedule prohibited his continuing to work with us on a consistent basis.
For the uninitiated who are not aware of the magnitude of this dynamic Fine Black Man, I'm borrowing a brief bio from Wikipedia:  Richard Wesley is an African-American playwright, and screenwriter for television and cinema. He is an associate professor at New York University's Tisch School of the Arts where he is the chair of the Rita and Burton Goldberg Department of Dramatic Writing.
Wesley was born in Newark, New Jersey to George & Gertrude Wesley, and grew up in that city's Ironbound section. Following high school he studied playwriting and dramatic literature at Howard University and earned a Master of Fine Arts degree.
He is married to author Valerie Wilson Wesley.

Works:He first achieved renown with the production by the New York Shakespeare Festival of his 1971 play Black Terror, which portrayed the story of a black revolution that was to take place in "the very near future". Clive Barnes in The New York Times described the play as a "winner" that "makes the case for black revolution and against black revolution."[3] Wesley was recognized with the Drama Desk Award for the 1971–72 season as most promising playwright for Black Terror, which earned him a $100 check from the president of Ticketron.  (don't know why that was important to mention)

In 1975, Wesley created The Past Is the Past, a drama about a black man who meets the father who had abandoned him many years before. The play was revived in 1989 in Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn's Billie Holiday Theatre, starring John Amos and Ralph Carter.
Wesley earned a substantial amount of money writing the screenplays for the 1974 film Uptown Saturday Night and the following year's Let's Do It Again, both of which starred Bill Cosby and Sidney Poitier.
His 1978 play The Mighty Gents tells the story of the members of a gang that had ruled the Central Ward of Newark having conquered their rivals the Zombies, who are now in their 30s and left only with the recollections of their past successes.
Wesley's 1989 play The Talented Tenth takes its name from W. E. B. Du Bois's seminal 1903 article, The Talented Tenth, that described the likelihood of one in ten black men becoming leaders of their race in the world, through methods such as continuing their education, writing books, or becoming directly involved in social change. The play features six successful graduates of Howard University — among them a realtor, advertising agent, a middle manager at a Fortune 500 firm and a Republican — who have reaped the benefits of their success, but feel the guilt of betraying their origins. Wesley had originally considered including the character of Essex Braxton from The Mighty Gents, who had achieved financial success in loan sharking and prostitution after leaving the gang, but dropped the idea as too artificial.[2] The play was recognized with six awards, including for dramatic production of the year and best playwright, at the 17th annual AUDELCO Recognition Awards which were established by the Audience Development Committee to honor excellence in New York African American Theatre.

Notable works


  • The Black Terror (1971)
  • The Mighty Gents (1978)
  • The Talented Tenth (1989)


  • Uptown Saturday Night (Warner Brothers, 1974)
  • Let's Do It Again (Warner Brothers, 1975)
  • Native Son (American Playhouse, Cinecom, 1984)
  • Fast Forward (Columbia Pictures, 1985)


  • Murder Without Motive (NBC, 1991)
  • Mandela and De Klerk (Showtime, 1997)
  • Bojangles (Showtime, 2000)

Television series contributions

Awards and honors

That's just a smidgen of Rich Wesley''s accomplishments!!
Beyond the Harlem Screenwriters'  Guild, the fact that we are both involved in the Black Literature and  Writers Programs at Medgar Evers, as well as other organizations and  programs, keeps us running in the most wonderful concentric circles.

This is why I'm posting this tribute to him - he is being honored on March 2, 2014, and I unfortunately will not be in attendance due to a previous engagement.  I just want to go on record in posting my appreciation for this wonderful brother - and let him know how much I and so many others truly value him as a friend, mentor, creative guide, and FINE BLACK MAN.  
My only complaint is this:  Rich, you need to get a photographer who will take a really great GQ Photo of you - these photos absolutely don't do you justice!! They should be in color, not black and white!! And anyway  you really can't play low key - you're waaaay too tall.
Kudos and congratulations and blessings Rich to you and Valerie.  You deserve all the accolades accrued to a brother who has been a wonderful shining example to us all.

Stay Blessed &
Gloria  Dulan-Wilson
www.gloriadulanwilson.blogspot.com/ECLECTICALLY BLACK NEWS

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