Joe Turner's Come and Gone is a play by the African American playwright August Wilson (1945–2005). The drama, which examines life in an African American boarding house in Pittsburgh in 1911, was inspired both by a painting by Romare Bearden and a W. C. Handy blues song of the same title. In the play, the main characters must at once realize their own self-worth and reject past notions of worthlessness that were imposed upon them by white slave owners, overseers, and employers.
Like the other plays in Wilson's ten-play historic cycle, Joe Turner's Come and Gone explores the personal legacy of slavery and repression experienced by African Americans. Uniquely, Wilson himself experienced such intense racial bias as a child that he educated himself in his local public library rather than attend school in a Pittsburgh suburb, where his mother worked in a variety of cleaning jobs. Wilson stated that he was most influenced by "the four Bs": blues music, Argentinian writer Jorge Luis Borges, playwright Amiri Baraka, and painter Romare Bearden.
Wilson lived in a boarding house much like the one he describes in Joe Turner's Come and Gone when he was a young man in his twenties. He was deeply affected by the politics of the 1960s, especially the Black Power movement. Wilson has described his motivation for writing his ten-play "Pittsburgh Cycle" as a need to chronicle the complete African American experience of the twentieth century by writing one play for each decade.