Lorraine Hansberry became involved in the Civil Rights Movement in 1963 and joined people like Lena Horne and James Baldwin to test Robert Kennedy's position on civil rights. American Society She was also a lesbian who kept her sexual preference as classified information, not able to come out during the tumultuous era in which basic human rights were denied on a regular basis, for certain groups of people in society. The granddaughter of a slave and the niece of a prominent African-American professor, Hansberry grew up with a keen awareness of African-American history and the ongoing struggle for civil rights. She tries to rouse her sleeping child and husband, calling out: "Get up!". Also in 2013, Hansberry was inducted into the American Theatre Hall of Fame. Lorraine Hansberry, likely at a welcoming event for the African-American Students Foundation in 1959. Lorraine Hansberry is often viewed as a visionary because of her ability to predict many of the relevant issues to the African-American community today. I found myself wishing I could have been Lorraines friend, or at the very least, a fly on the wall during some of her passionate discussions about politics, race, literature and art with friends and colleagues. James Baldwin wrote the introduction to Hansberrys biography, To Be Young, Gifted, and Black with an endearing letter to Hansberry titled Sweet Lorraine.. Du Bois, who served as one of her mentors. Hansberry herself led an extraordinary life, which is profiled in the . Clybourne Park is a "spin-off" of Lorraine Hansberry's famous 1959 play, A Raisin in the Sun, meaning that it centers around some of the play's peripheral events and characters.Specifically, the main characters of A Raisin in the Sun the Younger familywill eventually move into the house in which Clybourne Park is set. A Raisin in the Sun marked the turning point for black artists in professional theater. In doing so, he blocked access to all materials related to Hansberry's lesbianism, meaning that no scholars or biographers had access for more than 50 years. Bottom Row (left to right): T. S. Eliot; Lorraine Hansberry; Martin Buber; Otto Neurath. However, Karl Linder is the only character to appear in both . . She continued to write plays, short stories, and articles in addition to delivering speeches regarding race relations in the United States. Here are nine radical and radiant facts from Looking for Lorraine to introduce you to one of the most gifted, charismatic, yet least understood, Black artists. A Raisin in the Sun Mass Market Paperbound Lorraine Hansberry. She was 34 years old when she died after a two-year fight with pancreatic cancer. She reached out to the world through her plays. Photo of a scene from the play A Raisin in the Sun. Picture 1 of 1. Not only did Hansberry address social and racial issues in her novels and plays, but she also wrote articles true to her voice and beliefs for a progressive Black journal, Freedom, concerning governmental issues. In April 1959, as a sign of her sudden fame just one month after A Raisin in the Sun premiered on Broadway, photographer David Attie did an extensive photo-shoot of Hansberry for Vogue magazine, in the apartment at 337 Bleecker Street where she had written Raisin, which produced many of the best-known images of her today. Lorraine used the theater to share her views. She attended the University of Wisconsin in 194850 and then briefly the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and Roosevelt University (Chicago). . Image by Friedman-Abeles from Wikimedia. Additionally, Hansberry was known to be a champion of civil rights and social justice, and she was involved in several LGBTQ+ organizations and causes during her lifetime. Lorraine herself became involved in the civil rights movement at a young age, participating in protests and joining organizations like the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC). . Lorraine Hansberry, (born May 19, 1930, Chicago, Illinois, U.S.died January 12, 1965, New York, New York), American playwright whose A Raisin in the Sun (1959) was the first drama by an African American woman to be produced on Broadway. He added minor changes to complete the play Les Blancs, which Julius Lester termed her best work, and he adapted many of her writings into the play To Be Young, Gifted and Black, which was the longest-running Off Broadway play of the 196869 season. Lorraine Hansberry. Lorraine Hansberry (May 19, 1930-January 12, 1965) was a playwright, essayist, and civil rights activist. . The American dream means something different to each character in A Raisin in the Sun. He even took his battle against racially restrictive housing covenants to the Supreme Court, winning a major victory in the landmark case Hansberry v. Lee. Lorraines experiences growing up in this environment informed her writing, which often dealt with issues of race, class, and identity. Sadly, she passed away from pancreatic cancer on January 12, 1965. Lorraine Hansberry was a history-making playwright and author who became the first Black woman to have a play produced on Broadway. Lorraine Vivian Hansberry (May 19, 1930 - January 12, 1965) was an African-American playwright and writer. Hansberry was the youngest American, fifth woman and first black to win the award. Bella Sanchez is a recent graduate from Boston University, and the marketing intern for Beacon Press. In the same year, her second play, The Sign in Sidney Brusteins Window, was released on Broadway but was unable to become a major hit. ", In a Town Hall debate on June 15, 1964, Hansberry criticized white liberals who could not accept civil disobedience, expressing a need to "encourage the white liberal to stop being a liberal and become an American radical." Updates? This is her earliest remaining theatrical work. When Nemiroff donated Hansberry's personal and professional effects to the New York Public Library, he "separated out the lesbian-themed correspondence, diaries, unpublished manuscripts, and full runs of the homophile magazines and restricted them from access to researchers."  She was the first African-American female author to have a play performed on Broadway. Simone penned the song Young, Gifted and Black in tribute to her good friend, View objects relating to Lorraine Hansberry, Get the latest information about timed passes and tips for planning your visit, Search the collection and explore our exhibitions, centers, and digital initiatives, Online resources for educators, students, and families, Engage with us and support the Museum from wherever you are, Find our upcoming and past public and educational programs, Learn more about the Museum and view recent news. :). Among the likes: her homosexuality, Eartha Kitt, and that first drink of Scotch. Hansberrys contributions to American theatre and literature have had a lasting impact, and her work continues to be studied and performed today. The group of 1960's would-be idealists, iconoclasts and intellectuals who hang out in the Greenwich Village apartment of Sidney and Iris Brustein (Oscar Isaac and Rachel Brosnahan) include a painter, In the introduction of the live version, Simone explains the difficulty of losing a close friend and talented artist. . Hansberry was associated with very important people. Lorraines papers, including her letters and unpublished works, were private for years, with the public hearing only whispers or half-formed truths about some of the most significant aspects of Lorraines identity: her sexuality and her radical political leanings. Lorraine believed that the artists voice in whatever medium was to be as an agent for social change. A documentary has been made about her writing, Filmmaker Tracy Heather Strain is so taken with Lorraines work that she put together a powerful documentary so people would know who she was and what she stood for. When Irvine read the lyrics after it was finished, he thought, "I didn't write this. The restrictive covenant was ruled contestable, though not inherently invalid; these covenants were eventually ruled unconstitutional in Shelley v. Kraemer, 334 U.S. 1 (1948). Free shipping. Performers in this pageant included Paul Robeson, his longtime accompanist Lawrence Brown, the multi-discipline artist Asadata Dafora, and numerous others. 1937 Carl moves his family to a home in the Woodlawn. Lorraine Vivian Hansberry (May 19, 1930 - January 12, 1965) was a playwright and writer. Articles from Britannica Encyclopedias for elementary and high school students. And thats a fact! In 2014, the Lorraine Hansberry Literary Trust published a wealth of never-before-seen letters, writings, and journal entries, her heart and her mind put down on paper. Perry pored over these pages, and four years later wrote Looking for Lorraine. . She was the daughter of a real estate entrepreneur, Carl Hansberry, and schoolteacher, Nannie Hansberry, as well as the niece of Pan-Africanist scholar and college professor Leo Hansberry. $26.95. It was with those friends and Nemiroff that she kept a secret about the pancreatic cancer that would eventually take her life on January 12, 1965, at age 34. The sq. Image by Columbia Pictures from Wikimedia. After moving to New York City, she held various minor jobs and studied at theNew School for Social Researchwhile refining her writing skills. Lorraine's uncle, William Leo Hansberry, taught African history at Howard University. Lorraine Hansberry Speaks! Her grandniece is the actress Taye Hansberry. May 19, 1930 Lorraine Vivian Hansberry is born to Carl Augustus Hansberry, Sr. and Nannie Louise Hansberry in Chicago, Illinois. Pointing to these letters as evidence, some gay and lesbian writers credited Hansberry as having been involved in the homophile movement or as having been an activist for gay rights. Hansberrys work as a writer and activist was groundbreaking in its exploration of the experiences of African American women. In 1938, her father bought a house in the Washington Park Subdivision of the South Side of Chicago, incurring the wrath of some of their white neighbors. Perry explains that though the term radical has negative associations, for Lorraine, American radicalism was both a passion and a commitment. Lorraine Hansberry was the niece of Leo Hansberry, who was a Pan-Africanist scholar and college professor. Both Hansberry's were active in the Chicago Republican Party. On June 20, 1953, Hansberry married Robert Nemiroff, a Jewish publisher, songwriter, and political activist. The fascinating facts about Lorraine Hansberry following illustrate her development as a Black woman, activist, and writer. Hansberry was a contributor to The Ladder, a predominantly lesbian publication, where she wrote about homophobia and feminism. Hansberry was interested in writing from an early age and while in high school was drawn especially to the theatre. Biography. Encyclopaedia Britannica's editors oversee subject areas in which they have extensive knowledge, whether from years of experience gained by working on that content or via study for an advanced degree. In 1951, Hansberry joined the staff of the black newspaper Freedom, edited by Louis E. Burnham and published by Paul Robeson. Her favorite topics are psychology, sociology, anthropology, history and religion. A Contemporary Theatre (ACT) was their first incubator and in 2012 they became an independent organization. Save my name, email, and website in this browser for the next time I comment. The local Chicago government was willing to eject the Hansberrys from their new home but Lorraine's father, Carl Hansberry, took their case to court. Her mother, Nannie Hansberry, was a schoolteacher and a member of the NAACP. A studio recording by Simone was released as a single and the first live recording on October 26, 1969, was captured on Black Gold (1970). Carl Hansberry's brother, William Leo Hansberry, founded the African Civilization section of the History Department at Howard University. Fact 9: This isnt a major life milestone of Lorraines, but its too fascinating not to include it!) Biography & MemoirDisability Hansberry's classmate Bob Teague remembered her as "the only girl I knew who could whip together a fresh picket sign with her own hands, at a moment's notice, for any cause or occasion". . The fascinating facts about Lorraine Hansberry following illustrate her development as a Black woman, activist, and writer. Learn more about Lorraine Hansberry Paul Robeson and SNCC organizer James Forman gave eulogies. Also in 1963, Hansberry was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. . In 1963, Hansberry participated in a meeting with Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy, set up by James Baldwin. Lorraine Hansberry (1930 - 1965) was an American playwright and author best known for A Raisin in the Sun, a 1959 play influenced by her background and upbringing in Chicago. Hansberry traveled to Georgia to cover the case of Willie McGee, and was inspired to write the poem "Lynchsong" about his case. Her play premiered on Broadway in 1959 and made history by being the first Broadway production written by an African American woman. We would like, said Lorraine, from you, a moral commitment. He did not turn from her as he had turned away from Jerome. She moved to New York City and became involved in the arts scene, working as a writer and editor for various publications. Her parents both engaged in the fight against racial discrimination and segregration. Later, Hansberry would maintain her own close bonds with Du Bois, Robeson, Langston Hughes, and James Baldwin. Setting (time) Between 1945 and 1959 Setting (place) The South Side of Chicago Protagonist Walter Lee Younger Goodbye, Mr. Attorney General, she said, and turned and walked out of the room. Hansberry originally wanted to be an artist when she attended the University of Wisconsin, but soon changed her focus to study drama and stage design. Lorraine Hansberry: Lorraine Hansberry was a gifted playwright and creator of the award-winning play A Raisin in the Sun. . Hansberry often explained these global struggles in terms of female participants. The play was the first one to be produced on Broadway by an African-American woman and won an award at the Cannes Film Festival when its motion picture came out. . Lorraine Hansberry was born in Chicago, Illinois, on May 19, 1930. It seems, in fact, that, as with her dear friend the author James Baldwin, Hansberry is having a curiously vibrant renaissance some 54 years after her death, at the age of thirty-four from pancreatic cancer, on January 12, 1965. As well as being a political activists, Lorraine Hansberry was also a brilliant writer. Fact 6: In 1963, she met with Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy in New York City days after the protests and unrest in Birmingham Alabama (along with her close friend James Baldwin, Harry Belafonte, Clarence Jones and Jerome Smith, among others). The Hansberry family had many friends and relatives that were involved in the arts. Image by Unknown Author from Wikimedia. She was later quoted as saying that American racism helped kill him.. Here are five important facts about her that you most likely didnt know. Written by Oscar Brown, Jr., the show featured an interracial cast including Lonnie Sattin, Nichelle Nichols, Vi Velasco, Al Freeman, Jr., Zabeth Wilde, and Burgess Meredith in the title role of Mr. Hansberry was the godmother to Nina Simone's daughter Lisa. To be young, gifted and black Hansberry agreed to speak to the winners of a creative writing conference on May 1, 1964: "Though it is a thrilling and marvelous thing to be merely young and gifted in such times, it is doubly so, doubly dynamic to be young, gifted and black.". She was brought up alongside three siblings. McKissack, Patricia C. and Fredrick L. Young, Black and Determined: A Biography of Lorraine Hansberry. Her civil rights work and writing career were cut short by her death from pancreatic cancer at age 34. A Raisin in the Sun was the first play written by an African American woman to be produced on Broadway. For some facts about W.E.B Du Bois CLICK HERE, Theatrical release poster for the 1961 film. Lorraine Hansberry was an African-American playwright, writer and activist who lived from 1930 to 1965. When she was young, her family famously fought against racial segregation, attempting to buy a home that was covered by a racially restrictive covenantultimately leading to the Supreme Court case Hansberry v. Lee. Activism They must harass, debate, petition, give money to court struggles, sit-in, lie-down, strike, boycott, sing hymns, pray on stepsand shoot from their windows when the racists come cruising through their communities. 236 pp. In response to the independence of Ghana, led by Kwame Nkrumah, Hansberry wrote: "The promise of the future of Ghana is that of all the colored peoples of the world; it is the promise of freedom. The presiding minister, Eugene Callender, recited a message from Baldwin, and also a message from the Reverend Martin Luther King Jr. that read: "Her creative ability and her profound grasp of the deep social issues confronting the world today will remain an inspiration to generations yet unborn." For their magazine, the Ladder, Hansberry contributed articles which talked of feminism and homophobia, revealing her homosexual nature. Hansberry inspired the Nina Simone song "To Be Young, Gifted and Black", whose title-line came from Hansberry's autobiographical play. In 1961, Hansberry was set to replace Vinnette Carroll as the director of the musical Kicks and Co, after its try-out at Chicago's McCormick Place. She holds academic degrees which are: AA social Science Taken from us far too soon. Hansberry was also a prominent civil rights activist, and her writing and activism helped to shape the Black Arts Movement of the 1960s. You think you're accomplishing something in life until you realize that at age 29, playwright Lorraine Hansberry had a play produced on Broadway. Lorraine Hansberry Lorraine died at a young age of 34 from cancer. To Be Young, Gifted and Black The Hansberry Project is rooted in the convictions that black artists should be at the center of the artistic process, that the community deserves excellence in its art, and that theatre's fundamental function is to put people in a relationship with one another. In 1969, Nina Simone first released a song about Hansberry called "To Be Young, Gifted and Black." Suggested Posts. This made her the first Chicago native to be honored along the North Halsted corridor. April 14, 2021. This article was most recently revised and updated by, https://www.britannica.com/biography/Lorraine-Hansberry, BlackHistoryNow - Biography of Lorraine Hansberry, Lorraine Hansberry - Children's Encyclopedia (Ages 8-11), Lorraine Hansberry - Student Encyclopedia (Ages 11 and up). It was at one of these demonstrations that Hansberry met her husband and closest friend, Robert Nemiroff. There are several pieces of evidence that suggest Hansberrys same-sex attraction. . Fact 2: Lorraine was raised in the South Side of Chicago. I could think only of beauty, isolated and misunderstood but beauty still . In the same year, her second play, The Sign in Sidney Brustein's Window, was released on Broadway but was unable to become a major hit. A satire involving miscegenation, the $400,000 production was co-produced by her husband Robert Nemiroff. The single reached the top 10 of the R&B charts. The award-winning playwright whose 90th birthday would have been this week first captured the public eye during the civil rights movement. . She is best known for writing "A Raisin in the Sun," the first play by a Black woman produced on Broadway. Beacon Press. In 2010, Hansberry was inducted into the Chicago Literary Hall of Fame. She extended her hand. When she was only 29 years old, Hansberry became the youngest American and the first African-American playwright to win the New York Drama Critics Circle Award for Best Play. Hansberry was born into a Black family and grew up when the civil rights movement could use all the voices it could get. $5.42. Even though her disease brought her career to an abrupt halt, Lorraine Hansberry continues to be remembered through the paintings and writings which she worked on in the early years of her career. A selection of her writings was produced on Broadway asTo Be Young, Gifted, and Black(1969; book 1970). Along these lines, she wrote a critical review of Richard Wright's The Outsider and went on to style her final play Les Blancs as a foil to Jean Genet's absurdist Les Ngres. Lorraine Hansberry was 28 when she met James Baldwin, 34 at the time. . In fact, she was an active participant in the civil rights movement and used her talents as a writer and playwright to shed light on issues of race, gender and class in America. Hansberry resided in a third-floor apartment in this building from 1953 to 1960, the period in which she created her . 1. Lorraines mother, Nannie Hansberry, was also active in the struggle for civil rights. The song has also famously been recorded by artists including Aretha Franklin and Donny Hathaway. Louis Sachar. Hansberry's evolving politics were groundbreaking, and many questions remain about how they impacted her workboth plays she wrote after Raisin included gay charactersand how her ideas . In 1959, Hansberry was awarded the New York Drama Critics Circle Award for Best Play for A Raisin in the Sun, making her the first black playwright and the youngest playwright to win the award at the time. Politics & Current Events Since that time, other artists including Aretha Franklin have covered the song, whichbegins: To be young, gifted and black Lorraine Hansberry (1930-1965) wrote A Raisin in the Sun using inspiration from her years growing up in the segregated South Side of Chicago. James Baldwin wrote the introduction to Hansberrys biography, Literary Ladies Guide to the Writing Life. It was always, Marx, Lenin and revolutionreal girls talk.. Genre Realist drama. . Free shipping. . At the newspaper, she worked as a "subscription clerk, receptionist, typist, and editorial assistant" besides writing news articles and editorials. If the name Lorraine Hansberry doesnt ring a bell, we have some interesting information that may just give you an aha moment. On June 9, 2022, the Lilly Awards Foundation unveiled a statue of Hansberry in Times Square. Before her marriage, she had written in her personal notebooks about her attraction to women. In 1959, Hansberry commented that women who are "twice oppressed" may become "twice militant". She was also an active participant in the civil rights movement, and her writings and speeches inspired many people to take action against racial inequality and injustice. In 1969 a selection of her writings, adapted by Robert Nemiroff (to whom Hansberry was married from 1953 to 1964), was produced on Broadway as To Be Young, Gifted, and Black and was published in book form in 1970. Lincoln University's first-year female dormitory is named Lorraine Hansberry Hall. She was the president of her colleges chapter of Young Progressives of America, she and worked on progressive candidate Henry Wallaces presidential campaign. Lorraine Hansberry The Member of the Wedding The Metamorphosis The Natural The Plague The Plot Against America The Portrait of a Lady The Power of Sympathy The Red Badge of Courage The Road The Road from Coorain The Sound and the Fury The Stone Angel The Stranger The Sun Also Rises The Temple of My Familiar The Three Musketeers While working as a part-time waitress and cashier, Hansberry worked as the writer and associate editor of the black newspaper, Freedom, from 1950 to 1953 under Paul Robeson. However, the writer adopted the initials of L.H. The title of Hansberrys now-iconic play A Raisin In the Sun was inspired by Hughes poem Harlem. One could argue that the play illustrated the poems sentiment: Quotes from A Raisin in the Sun Lorraines extraordinary life has often been reduced to this one fact in classroomsif she is taught at all. Hansberry may not have finished college, but she went on to make significant contributions to American culture and society through her art and activism. It was a critical time in the history of the civil rights movement. . Best known for her plays, Hansberry was the first black woman to write a Broadway drama; A Raisin in the . Lorraine Hansberry, a celebrated African American playwright and writer, was not openly gay during her lifetime. Lorraine Vivian Hansberry was born May 19, 1930 at the beginning of the Great Depression. Conversations with Lorraine Hansberry - Mollie Godfrey 2021-01-15 Written when she was just twenty-eight, Lorraine Hansberry's landmark A Raisin in the Sun is listed . Lorraine Hansberry (1930-1965) Hansberry was an activist and playwright best known for her groundbreaking play "A Raisin in the Sun," about a struggling Black family on Chicago's South Side. Hansberrys uncle, William Leo Hansberry, founded the Howard University African Civilization section of the history department, her cousin Shauneille Perry is an actress and playwright, and her younger relatives, Taye Hansberry is an actress and Aldridge Hansberry is a composer and flutist. 'The Black Revolution and the White Backlash . The paper published articles about feminist movements, global anti-colonialist struggles, and domestic activism against Jim Crow laws. Hansberry was born May 19, 1930, in Chicago, Illinois, the youngest of four children. In 1961, the play was made into a movie. In one of her stories, The Anticipation of Eve, Lorraine describes the moment the protagonist Rita is about to see her lover Eve with lush, tender language: I could think only of flowers growing lovely and wild somewhere by the highways, of every lovely melody I had ever heard. Du Bois. It is a play that tells the truth about people, Negroes [in the parlance of the time], and life. Being nothing short of brilliant in her approach, Hansberry wielded the full power of the pen in the punchy writing style that was and still is hard to ignore. Publisher Random House. Patricia and Fredrick McKissack wrote a children's biography of Hansberry, Young, Black, and Determined, in 1998.
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