The Spirit of King Award, established in 1989 by the Kingsley Association, Port Authority of Allegheny County and the Pittsburgh Pirates, posthumously honors the lifetime achievements of local citizens who pursue human rights and equality in the spirit of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
Thursday’s ceremony takes place at 10 a.m. at the Kingsley Association, 6435 Frankstown Avenue.
Rev. LeRoy Patrick (1915-2006) was a prominent civil rights activist in Pittsburgh throughout the 1950s and 1960s, using his position as a respected clergyman to advocate for equality for African-Americans in the fields of education, employment and housing. During his lifetime, he helped to integrate the city’s public pools, served as president of the Pittsburgh School Board and served on the Pittsburgh NAACP, Allegheny County Council on Civil Rights and Allegheny County Committee for Fair Housing Practices, among other organizations. Rev. Patrick presided over the Bethesda Presbyterian Church in Homewood and helped run the church’s Bethesda Center, a social service organization providing recreation, employment, family development and spiritual outreach to the local community.
Famed playwright August Wilson (1945-2005) drew much of his inspiration from his community, the Hill District. He enjoyed observing people in his neighborhood, many of whom would become characters in his writings. His Pittsburgh Cycle of plays, depicting African-American life in the 20th century, earned Wilson many accolades, including two Pulitzer Prizes, a Tony Award and numerous New York Drama Critics Circle Awards. Following his death, the Virginia Theatre on Broadway in New York City was renamed the August Wilson Theatre in his honor. The August Wilson Center for African American Culture opened in Downtown Pittsburgh in 2006 as a tribute to his lifetime of literary achievements, and his childhood home was declared a historic landmark by the state in 2007.
To learn more about Rev. LeRoy Patrick and August Wilson as well as past honorees, visit the Spirit of King webpage.