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Spruill, James, 1986 - 1987

 Item — Multiple Containers

Scope and Contents

Actor, director, and theatre professor James Spruill spoke to Black Experience in the Arts students on 2/18/1986 (2015-0002/RR274/AC21) and on 2/10/1987 (2015-0002/RR247) with Lynda Patton and Georgette Leslie. Spruill attended Boston University (BU) for a Master’s of Fine Arts in directing in 1968 and was the first to be awarded the Martin Luther King, Jr. Fellowship. While a student at BU, Spruill co-founded the New African Company, a small professional theatre dedicated to presenting the work of African American playwrights, and is still in production today.


  • 1986 - 1987

Conditions Governing Access

Links to digitized content are included in the finding aid.

Biographical / Historical

Born in Baltimore, Mr. Spruill attended segregated schools before attending Goddard College, a progressive school in Plainfield, Vt., on a scholarship.

Interrupting his studies for prolonged periods of acting, he divided his time between Vermont and New York City, where in addition to acting with Freeman, Mr. Spruill was an understudy to Louis Gossett Jr. and appeared with others who became well-known in television and movies.

Mr. Spruill initially left New York to join the Theater Company of Boston. In 1968, the year he founded the New African Company, which he founded with Gustave Johnson, he began serving as a host of WGBH radio’s Say Brother,’ which became Basic Black.’

He enrolled that year in a master of fine arts program in directing at Boston University. Mr. Spruill was the first to be awarded the university’s Martin Luther King Jr. Fellowship for a graduate student and received his degree in 1975. The next year, he was hired to teach on the faculty of BU’s College of Fine Arts, where he remained until retiring in 2006.

James Spruill died on December 31, 2011.

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1 Reels (Magnetic tape audio recording ) : RR 247 1 reel, 1:10:34; tape speed 3¾ IPS; track position ½-Track Mono; Substrate: Polyester. RR 274 1 reel, Side A-0:48:30; Side B-0:25:57; Recording run time 01:14:23; tape speed 3¾ IPS; track position ½-Track Mono; Substrate: Polyester. This recording is a duplicate of AC 21 but the initial few seconds are cut off.

1 Cassettes : AC 21 1 cassette, Side A-0:44:47; Side B-0:28:08. The recordings were combined for ease of listening. The combined run time of the digital recording is 1:12:51.

Language of Materials

From the Series: English