About Lorraine Hansberry
Lorraine 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 to be 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 also 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 5th 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.
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. The presiding reverend, Eugene Callender, recited messages from James Baldwin and the Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr. which 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." She is buried at Asbury United Methodist Church Cemetery in Croton-on-Hudson, New York.