PULLMAN, Wash. – David Simon, co-creator of the HBO television series “The Wire,” has been named recipient of the Washington State University William Julius Wilson Award for the Advancement of Social Justice.
Simon will accept the award and present a free, public address at 7 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 22, in the CUB auditorium during the William Julius Wilson Award Symposium. He will speak on “The End of the American Century & What’s In It for You.”
Wilson received his doctoral degree in sociology from WSU and is one of the nation’s leading scholars in the fields of African American studies, race, civil rights, poverty and social and public policy issues. He was the first person to receive the award named in his honor in 2009. He is scheduled to attend this symposium.
Urban issues made real
“The Wire” has been widely hailed for its insightful depiction of lives and issues in urban America.
“David Simon has been an influential force in making the issues of today’s cities both human and real to this generation of Americans,” said Elson S. Floyd, WSU president.
“We are honoring David Simon with this award because of his significant and innovative contributions to promote social policy, in particular by raising the public’s awareness of systemic social inequality, poverty and the complex way that social surroundings affect individual-level decisions,” said Julie Kmec, associate professor of sociology and chair of the committee organizing the event.
Credits include “Homicide,” “The Corner”
Born in Washington D.C., Simon moved to Baltimore in 1983 to work as a crime reporter at the Baltimore Sun newspaper. He reported and wrote two works of narrative nonfiction, “Homicide: A Year on the Killing Streets” and “The Corner: A Year in the Life of an Inner-City Neighborhood.” The former is an account of a year spent with the city homicide squad; the latter chronicles a year spent on a West Baltimore drug corner.
“Homicide” became the basis for the NBC drama that aired 1993-99, for which Simon worked as a writer and producer after leaving the Sun in 1995. “The Corner” became an HBO miniseries and won three Emmy Awards in 2000.
“The Wire,” a subsequent HBO drama, aired 2002-08. It depicted a dystopian American city contending with a fraudulent drug war, the loss of its industrial base, political and educational systems incapable of reform and a media culture oblivious to all the above.
Series used in university courses
Three Harvard scholars, including Wilson, recently pointed out that the series has “done more to enhance both the popular and the scholarly understanding of the challenges of urban life and the problems of urban inequality than any other program in the media or academic publication.”
The series has been used as course material for a number of university sociology, urban studies and criminal justice classes, including classes at WSU.
Simon also served in 2008 as a writer and executive producer of HBO’s “Generation Kill,” a miniseries depicting U.S. Marines in the early days of the Iraq conflict.
He is at work on the third season of a drama about post-Katrina New Orleans entitled “Treme.” He also does prose work for the New Yorker, Esquire and the Washington Post, among other publications.
James Tinney, WSU News, 509-335-8055, email@example.com