Syracuse Stage Producing Artistic Director Timothy Bond began a series of discussions around the August Wilson play Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, which opened the season. On September 21, I attended a post show forum on the use of the N-word during the play. The forum featured Actor Thomas Jefferson Byrd (standing) along with media personality George Kilpatrick (center) and professor Dr. Adam Banks. Byrd told the crowd of about 50 that he was not offended by the use of the N-word during the play because it was part of the dialogue that showed a true portrait of the world of the featured characters (circa 1920s). Wilson’s work gave those characters, and their world, recognition and worth, Byrd said. Banks added that the word as well as the use of the N-word must be framed within the proper historical and cultural context.