WestConn’s ‘The Black Man Cometh’ lecture to honor Black History Month

DANBURY, CONN. — To honor black history month, Western Connecticut State University will hold a lecture based on playwright Eugene O’Neill’s “The Iceman Cometh.”

“The Black Man Cometh” will be held from noon to 1 p.m. on Wednesday, Feb. 24, in the Student Center Theater on the university’s Midtown campus, 181 White St. in Danbury. Sponsored by the WCSU English Honor Society, the lecture will be presented by Associate Professor of English Dr. Don Gagnon. The material is from an article Gagnon wrote for an upcoming Modern Language Association anthology. The lecture is free and open to the public.

O’Neill wrote “The Iceman Cometh” in 1939 and it was performed on Broadway in 1946. It was the first time that a drama presented a serious, psychologically developed character.

“‘The Iceman Cometh’ is used to measure O’Neill’s vision of race in America,” Gagnon said. “For a white writer to actually engage black issues on a serious level was particularly noteworthy.”

O’Neill’s prior efforts, no matter how well-intentioned, Gagnon said, were not always successful in creating a greater sensitivity and value to African Americans. Through the creation of Joe Mott’s character, he said, O’Neill overcame earlier challenges with an accurate portrayal of early American experience. “O’Neill did overcome much of his racialist thinking,” Gagnon said.

The lecture will run about 30 minutes and will be followed by a question-and-answer session.

For more information, contact Gagnon at (203) 837-9062.


Western Connecticut State University offers outstanding faculty in a range of quality academic programs. Our diverse university community provides students an enriching and supportive environment that takes advantage of the unique cultural offerings of Western Connecticut and New York. Our vision: To be an affordable public university with the characteristics of New England’s best small private universities.


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