Lorraine Hansberry: (1930-1965) Playwright, Author, Civil Rights Activist

Welcome to Recreate, a historical blog dedicated to highlighting prominent African American women whose lasting contributions have influenced the civil rights movement, politics, science, business, technology, art, music, theatre, beauty, and fashion.

The featured recreate photograph is a collage of the famous playwright Lorraine Hansberry on the left, and myself on the right.  Lorraine wrote “A Raisin In The Sun”, the first play written by an African American to be produced on Broadway.  The play debuted in 1959 and was meet with much acclaim.  It tells the story of a poor African American family that struggles to raise above socioeconomic conditions only to face housing discrimination on the basis of race. Hansberry is the first black playwright, the youngest American, and only the fifth woman to win a New York Critics’ Circle Award. The title of the play comes from a line in the poem “Harlem” written by Langston Hughes.

Lorraine was heavily involved in the civil rights, a public figure, and popular speaker at a number of conferences and meetings. Among her most notable speeches was one delivered to a black writers’ conference sponsored by the American Society of African Culture in New York. In her speech, Hansberry declared that “all art is ultimately social” and called upon black writers to be involved in “the intellectual affairs of all men, everywhere.” As the civil rights movement strengthened, Hansberry helped to plan fund-raising events to support organizations such as the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC).  Along with other influential people, including Harry Belafonte, Lena Horne and James Baldwin, Hansberry met with then attorney general Robert Kennedy to test his position on civil rights.

After Hansberry died in 1965, she left a number of finished and unfinished projects. A collection of her works were published under the title “To Be Young, Gifted, and Black”, which was also made into an off-Broadway play.  Her close friend Nina Simone wrote the song “To Be Young, Gifted, and Black” to honor Hansberry’s memory.


Model: Jasmine Y. Williams

Photography Credit: M Photography by Randolph Means



Chicago Public Library/ Lorraine Hansberry: https://www.chipublib.org/lorraine-hansberry-biography/

Oxford University Press/ Women and Literature: https://blog.oup.com/2006/09/women_and_liter-3/

Biography: https://www.biography.com/people/lorraine-hansberry-9327823






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