Fancy a little celebration of U.S playwright Lorraine Hansberry through the medium of the factlet? I know, I read your mind right?
So what makes her so great? How about these five things, for starters.
The reasons Lorraine Hansberry was awesome
💜 ‘A Raisin in the Sun’ was the first work by an African-American playwright to be produced on Broadway. In 1959. It was inspired by her own families’ battle in court. Hansberry vs Lee, in case you’re interested.
💚 It won the New York’s Drama Critic’s Circle Award. Hansberry was the first black dramatist and the fifth woman to win. At the age of 29, she was also the youngest to do so.
💜 The FBI kept files on her and vetted her work before it was published. They kept tabs on dozens of black writers in the US between 1919 and 1972.
💚 Hansberry was an activist for civil rights, gay rights, feminism, anti-colonialism & anti-imperialism.
💜 The only other play produced in her lifetime was ‘The Sign in Sidney Brustein’s Window’. It closed the night she died after running for 101 performances.
💚 BONUS FACT 1: (because everyone loves a bonus) Hansberry was the inspiration for Nina Simone’s song ‘To Be Young, Gifted and Black’.
💜 BONUS FACT 2: The title ‘A Raisin in the sun’ was taken from Langston Hughes’ poem ‘Harlem’ – “What happens to a dream deferred? Does it dry up like a raisin in the sun?”
HER FULL STATS: Born Lorraine Vivian Hansberry on May 19, 1930 in Chicago, Illinois, U.S.
Died on January 12, 1965 in New York City, New York, U.S.
📸: Unknown (if you know who took this fabulous photo, let me know so I can properly credit.)
There is always something left to love. If you have learned that, you ain't learned nothing - 'A Raisin in the Sun', Lorraine Hansberry. Click To Tweet
So that’s my little list of five reasons Lorraine Hansberry was awesome what would you add?
Want more? I’ve got you covered with a curated playlist of YouTube videos about Hansberry. Have a watch below. Please note I don’t own any of these videos, I’ve simply pulled together a few items that I feel may be of interest to you. Because who wants to go hunting when you can watch in one place. 😉
Lorraine Hansbury: mini - DOCUMENTARYLorraine Hansberry (May 19, 1930 -- January 12, 1965) was an African American playwright and author of political speeches, letters, and essays. Her best known work, A Raisin in the Sun, was inspired by her family's legal battle against racially segregated housing laws in the Washington Park Subdivision of the South Side of Chicago during her childhood.
Hansberry attended the University of Wisconsin--Madison, but found college uninspiring and left in 1950 to pursue her career as a writer in New York City, where she attended The New School. She worked on the staff of the black newspaper Freedom under the auspices of Paul Robeson, and worked with W. E. B. DuBois, whose office was in the same building. A Raisin in the Sun was written at this time, and was a huge success. It was the first play written by an African-American woman to be produced on Broadway. At 29 years, she became the youngest American playwright and only the fifth woman to receive the New York Drama Critics Circle Award for Best Play. While many of her other writings were published in her lifetime - essays, articles, and the text for the SNCC book The Movement, the only other play given a contemporary production was The Sign in Sidney Brustein's Window.
In 1961, Hansberry was set Vinnette Carroll as the director of the musical, Kicks and Co, after its try-out at Chicago's McCormick Place. It was written by Oscar Brown, Jr. and 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. Kicks. A satire involving miscegenation, the $400,000 production was co-produced by her husband Robert Nemiroff; despite a warm reception in the Windy City, the show never made it to Broadway.
After a long battle with pancreatic cancer she died on January 12, 1965, at the age of 34. According to James Baldwin, Hansberry was prescient about many of the increasingly troubling conditions in the world, and worked to remedy them with literature. Baldwin believed "it is not at all farfetched to suspect that what she saw contributed to the strain which killed her, for the effort to which Lorraine was dedicated is more than enough to kill a man." Hansberry's funeral was held in Harlem on January 15, 1965. Paul Robeson gave her eulogy.
Lorraine HansberryLorraine Hansberry in "The Black Experience in Drama." This video features rare footage of Lorraine Hansberry, the playwright and activist most known for her play "A Raison in the Sun."
Lorraine Hansberry: Sighted Eyes / Feeling Heart | American Masters | Panel DiscussionOn February 26, over 200 people gathered to see the new American Masters documentary film, Lorraine Hansberry: Sighted Eyes / Feeling Heart at the Magnolia Performing Arts Pavilion at Baton Rouge Community College. Visit lpb.org/hansberry for more.
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