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I could think only of beauty, isolated and misunderstood but beauty still . 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. Lorraines mother, Nannie Hansberry, was also active in the struggle for civil rights. The success of the hit pop song "Cindy, Oh Cindy", co-authored by Nemiroff, enabled Hansberry to start writing full-time. I am in Houston and may go see Clybourne Park at the Midtown A&T Center before I leave town next week. She wrote about her experiences as a lesbian in her unpublished journals and letters. 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. . As the first-ever black woman to author a play performed on. Picture Information. Since that time, other artists including Aretha Franklin have covered the song, whichbegins: To be young, gifted and black Although the couple separated in 1957 and divorced in 1962, their professional relationship lasted until Hansberry's death. How would you rate this article? 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. To support our blog and writers we put affiliate links and advertising on our page. In her award-winning Hansberry biography Looking for Lorraine: The Radiant and Radical Life of Lorraine Hansberry, Imani Perry writes that in his "gorgeous" images, "Attie captured her intellectual confidence, armour, and remarkable beauty.". . Lorraine Hansberry became involved in the Civil Rights Movement in 1963 and joined people like Lena Horne and James Baldwin to test Robert Kennedys position on civil rights. The granddaughter of a freed slave, Lorraine Vivian Hansberry was born on May 19, 1930, to a successful real estate broker and a school teacher who resided in Chicago, Illinois. There are several pieces of evidence that suggest Hansberrys same-sex attraction. The Lorraine Hansberry Theatre of San Francisco, which specializes in original stagings and revivals of African-American theatre, is named in her honor. Her promising career was cut short by her early death from pancreatic cancer. When the play opens, the Youngers are about to receive an insurance check for $10,000. Image by Eden, Janine and Jim from Wikimedia. . The sq. These were important voices for the movement to bring equality for all people as a basic right of all within the United States. Her mother, Nannie Perry, was a schoolteacher active in the Republican Party. 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. He was known as a race man who sought to make the world a better place for African Americans. Her favorite topics are psychology, sociology, anthropology, history and religion. Founded in 2004 and officially launched in 2006, The Hansberry Project of Seattle, Washington was created as an African-American theatre lab, led by African-American artists and was designed to provide the community with consistent access to the African-American artistic voice. In the same year, Hansberry was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer which took her life at a mere age of 34. Hansberry was a contributor to The Ladder, a predominantly lesbian publication, where she wrote about homophobia and feminism. However, Hansberry admired Simone de Beauvoir's The Second Sex. It was at one of these demonstrations that Hansberry met her husband and closest friend, Robert Nemiroff. Her play premiered on Broadway in 1959 and made history by being the first Broadway production written by an African American woman. Top 10 Things to do Around the Eiffel Tower, 10 Things to Do in Paris on Christmas Day (2022), 10 Things to Do in Luxembourg Gardens in Paris. This gave her a platform for sharing her views. Lorraine Hansberry was born in 1930, in Chicago, Illinois, into a family of civil rights activists. . Upon his ex-wife's death, Robert Nemiroff donated all of Hansberry's personal and professional effects to the New York Public Library. Image by Unknown Author from Wikimedia. Carl died in 1946 when Lorraine was fifteen years old; "American racism helped kill him," she later said. Her best-known work, the play A Raisin in the Sun, highlights the lives of black Americans in Chicago living under racial segregation. Her other works include the plays The Sign in Sidney Brusteins Window and Les Blancs, as well as several essays and articles on civil rights and social justice issues. Open your heart to what I mean Lorraine Vivian Hansberry (May 19, 1930 January 12, 1965) was a playwright and writer. Before her marriage, she had written in her personal notebooks about her attraction to women. In 1964, Hansberry and Nemiroff divorced but continued to work together. She was the fourth child born to Nannie Perry Hansberry and Carl Augustus Hansberry in Chicago, IL. She attended the University of Wisconsin in 194850 and then briefly the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and Roosevelt University (Chicago). She admonished the Kennedy administration to be more active in addressing the problem of segregation in the community. 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. They write new content and verify and edit content received from contributors. 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. Lorraine's uncle, William Leo Hansberry, taught African history at Howard University. ", James Baldwin described Hansberry's 1963 meeting with Robert F. Kennedy, in which Hansberry asked for a "moral commitment" on civil rights from Kennedy. 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. According to historian Fanon Che Wilkins, "Hansberry believed that gaining civil rights in the United States and obtaining independence in colonial Africa were two sides of the same coin that presented similar challenges for Africans on both sides of the Atlantic." Hansberry's most famous work, "A Raisin In The Sun" remains one of the best known plays ever written by a Black female playwright. . Lorraine Hansberry. The fascinating facts about Lorraine Hansberry following illustrate her development as a Black woman, activist, and writer. Updates? Corrections? . Lorraine Hansberry, child of a cultured, middle-class black family but early exposed to the poverty and discrimination suffered by most blacks in America, fought passionately against racism in her writings and throughout her life. Hansberry, an outspoken Communist, was committed to racial equity and participated in civil rights demonstrations. The play opened at the Ethel Barrymore Theatre on March 11, 1959, and was a great success. A Raisin in the Sun marked the turning point for black artists in professional theater. Hansberry was the daughter of parents who were also outspoken advocates for civil rights. Save my name, email, and website in this browser for the next time I comment. . Lorraine Hansberry was deeply influenced by her uncles activism and scholarship, and her work often reflected her own commitment to social justice and civil rights for African Americans. Her own familys landmark court case against discriminatory real estate covenants in Chicago would serve as inspiration for her seminal Broadway play, A Raisin in the Sun. Three years later, Hansberry devoted all her attention towards writing joining the Daughters of Bilitis the year after. In 1951, Hansberry joined the staff of the black newspaper Freedom, edited by Louis E. Burnham and published by Paul Robeson. Lorraine Hansberry was born on May 19, 1930, in Chicago, Illinois, United States. Fact 2: Lorraine was raised in the South Side of Chicago. The title is found in the PBS new American Masters category under Lorraine Hansberry: Sighted Eyes/Feeling Heart. In the documentary youll discover that Hansberry truly spoke truth to power.. It aired recently on PBS and if you didnt catch it, you can find out more. Does it dry up like a raisin in the sun?" Learn more about Lorraine Hansberry She spent the summer of 1949 in Mexico, studying painting at the University of Guadalajara. With the help of the NAACP, he eventually won the right to stay, but never recovered from the emotional stress of their legal battles ("Lorraine Hansberry";Hansberry 21). Bottom Row (left to right): T. S. Eliot; Lorraine Hansberry; Martin Buber; Otto Neurath. A Reader's Guide to Lorraine Hansberry's A Raisin in the Sun - Pamela Loos 2008-01-01 Presents a critique and analysis of "A Raisin in the Sun," discussing the plot, themes, dramatic devices, and major characters in the play, and includes a brief overview of Hansberry's other works. In 1938, after her father bought a house in the south side of Chicago, the family was subject to the wrath of their white neighbors, resulting in U.S. Supreme CourtsHansberry v. Leecase. Tone Realistic. Du Bois, who served as one of her mentors. Lorraine Hansberry was an avid civil rights activist because she understood clearly, that people need a champion in this life. . A Raisin in the Sun, her most famous work, debuted on Broadway in 1959 and was the first play written by a Black woman to be produced on Broadway. Lincoln University's first-year female dormitory is named Lorraine Hansberry Hall. Risking public censure and process of being outed to the larger community, she joined the Daughters of Bilitis, a lesbian organization, and submitted letters and short stories to queer publications Ladder and ONE. In 2008, the production was adapted for television with the same cast, winning two NAACP Image Awards. Born on the 19 th of May in 1930, in Chicago, Illinois, Lorraine Hansberry was a bright daughter of Carl Augustus Hansberry, a political activist, while her mother, Nannie Louise, was a schoolteacher. and then "L.N." She was the first African-American female author to have a play performed on Broadway. Your email address will not be published. The group told Kennedy that the federal government was not doing enough to protect the civil rights of African Americans, but the attorney general didnt agree. Setting (time) Between 1945 and 1959 Setting (place) The South Side of Chicago Protagonist Walter Lee Younger . The FBI began surveillance of Hansberry when she prepared to go to the Montevideo peace conference. Fact 9: This isnt a major life milestone of Lorraines, but its too fascinating not to include it!) 1937 Carl moves his family to a home in the Woodlawn. How could we improve it? Du Bois, the Civil Rights activist, author, sociologist, and historian, and Paul Robeson, the musician and actor, were friends of the Hansberry family. In college, she took classes in stage design and sculpture, and turned her dorm room into an art studio. Feminism & Gender 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. Literature & the Arts Beacon Press. 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. Taken from us far too soon. 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. Fact 8: Though she married a man, Lorraine identified as a lesbian. Written and completed in 1957, A Raisin in the Sun opened at the Ethel Barrymore Theatre on March 11, 1959, becoming the first play by an African-American woman to be produced on Broadway. The result is an essay that, nearly two decades later, surpasses any document on Lorraine, old or new, in its exploration of her intimate life. After moving to New York City, she held various minor jobs and studied at the New School for Social Research while refining her writing skills. Time and place written 1950s, New York. She died of pancreatic cancer at the age of 34. Lorraine Hansberry was 28 when she met James Baldwin, 34 at the time. To those around them, the Hansberrys were inspirational both parents were college. Lorraine Hansberry was born on May 19, 1930 at Provident Hospital on the South Side of Chicago. It was previously ruled that African Americans were not allowed to purchase property in the Washington Park subdivision in Chicago, Illinois. . Her father founded Lake Street Bank, one of the first banks for blacks in Chicago, and ran a successful real estate business. 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. It seems illogical that someone who was such a font of creativity, so full of life and laughter and accomplishments, had such a tragically short life. Lorraine Hansberry was an African-American playwright, writer and activist who lived from 1930 to 1965. Thanks for reading! Lorraine Hansberry was a U.S. writer in the mid-1900s. 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.". In 2014, the play was revived on Broadway again in a production starring Denzel Washington, directed again by Kenny Leon; it won three Tony Awards, for Best Revival of a Play, Best Featured Actress in a Play for Sophie Okonedo, and Best Direction of a Play. Who Was Lorraine Hansberry? While every effort has been made to follow citation style rules, there may be some discrepancies. She expressed a desire for a future in which "Nobody fights. She was 34 years old when she died after a two-year fight with pancreatic cancer. Hansberry wrote The Crystal Stair, a play about a struggling Black family in Chicago, which was later renamed A Raisin in the Sun. She was brought up alongside three siblings. You think you're accomplishing something in life until you realize that at age 29, playwright Lorraine Hansberry had a play produced on Broadway. . Book Details. She is buried at Asbury United Methodist Church Cemetery in Croton-on-Hudson, New York. Fact 4: Lorraine worked at the progressive black Freedom Newspaper (published by Paul Robeson) with W. E . Hansberry was born in Chicago, Illinois, in 1930. 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 (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. Hansberry was invited to meet Robert F. Kennedy (then U.S. Attorney General) in May, 1963 due to the work she had done as a Civil Rights activist, but declined the invitation. . When Irvine read the lyrics after it was finished, he thought, "I didn't write this. 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. Her grandniece is the actress Taye Hansberry. Paul Robeson and SNCC organizer James Forman gave eulogies. 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. Copyright 2023 All Rights ReservedPrivacy Policy, Film & Stage Adaptations of Classic Novels, The first Black woman to have a play staged on Broadway, In 1969, four years after Lorraine Hansberrys death, Nina Simone wrote, Princeton Professor Imani Perry, author of, She addressed social issues in her writings. Hansberry and Simone had been friends and shared a bond over their interests in social justice and radical politics. A Raisin in the Sun - Mass Market Paperback By Lorraine Hansberry - VERY GOOD. Our editors will review what youve submitted and determine whether to revise the article. Commissioned by NBC in 1960 to create a television program about slavery, Hansberry wrote The Drinking Gourd. Leo Hansberry was a prominent figure in the Pan-Africanist movement, and he founded the African Civilization section at Howard University, where he was a professor of African history. 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. She was the first African-American female author to have a play performed on Broadway. Hansberry was also a prominent civil rights activist, and her writing and activism helped to shape the Black Arts Movement of the 1960s. Many icons of the early African American Civil Rights Movement, e.g., Langston Hughes, visited the Hansberry home Language English. [1] She was the first African-American female author to have a play performed on Broadway. Publisher Random House. Sighted Eyes/Feeling Heart has had a vigorously successful run. In 1969, Nina Simone first released a song about Hansberry called "To Be Young, Gifted and Black." Who are young, gifted and black 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.