Lorraine Hansberry (1930-1965) grew up in an environment that set the stage, so to speak, for her best-known work A Raisin in the Sun, the first play to be written by an African American woman that was brought to Broadway. She also wrote political essays and worked for the African American magazine Freedom. Hansberry was a part of and wrote for the Daughters of Bilitis’ magazine The Ladder, mostly articles on social issues of race and gender.
Her ability to pounce on the social and racial issues of the world around her in her writings made her stand out and impacted all of society. Being a black lesbian at this time, it is amazing what Hansberry accomplished and is still recognized for her always strong and passionate words.
Fascinating Facts about Lorraine Hansberry
At the age of 29, Hansberry became the youngest American and the first Black playwright to win the New York Drama Critics’ Circle Award for Best Play.
When working for The Ladder, which was the first subscription based magazine for lesbians, Hansberry wrote anonymous letters about her private thoughts and lifestyle she kept hidden from others. They hint at the possibility that she may have had relationships with women.
- A Raisin in the Sun
- Les Blancs: The Collected Last Plays: The Drinking Gourd/What Use Are Flowers?
- The Sign in Sidney Brustein’s Window
Autobiographies and Biographies about Lorraine Hansberry
- To Be Young, Gifted and Black
- Lorraine Hansberry: Award-Winning Playwright and Civil Rights Activist by Susan Sinnott
- Young, Black and Determined: A Biography of Lorraine Hansberry by Patricia and Frederick McKissack
Articles, News, Etc.
- Lorraine Hansberry’s Secret Letters Reveal Struggles with Sexuality
- A Website Dedicated to Lorraine Hansberry
Visit Lorraine Hansberry’s Home
- Lorraine Hansberry House - Chicago, IL
Lorraine Hansberry Quotes
“A woman who is willing to be herself and pursue her own potential runs not so much the risk of loneliness as the challenge of exposure to more interesting men — and people in general.” (Quoted in Wild Women Talk Back : Audacious Advice for the Bedroom, Boardroom, and Beyond, 2004)
“We only revert back to mystical ideas – which includes most contemporary orthodox religious views, in my opinion – because we simply are confronted with some things we don’t yet understand.”
“Take away the violence and who will hear the men of peace?”
“Don’t get up. Just sit a while and think. Never be afraid to sit awhile and think.” (A Raisin in the Sun, 1959)
“Eventually it comes to you: the thing that makes you exceptional, if you are at all, is inevitably that which must also make you lonely.” (To be Young, Gifted and Black, 1969)
“Children see things very well sometimes — and idealists even better.” (A Raisin in the Sun, 1959)
“There is always something left to love…and if you ain’t learned that, you ain’t learned nothin’…” (A Raisin in the Sun, 1959)
“I wish to live beacause life has within it that which is good, that which is beautiful, and that which is love. Therefore, since I have known all of these things, I have found them to be reason enough and–I wish to live. Moreover, because this is so, I wish others to live for generations and generations and generations and generations.” (To be Young, Gifted and Black, 1969)
“I want to fly! I want to touch the sun!” (A Raisin in the Sun, 1959)
“A status not freely chosen or entered into by an individual or a group is necessarily one of oppression and the oppressed are by their nature (i.e., oppressed) forever in ferment and agitation against their condition and what they understand to be their oppressors. If not by overt rebellion or revolution, then in the thousand and one ways they will devise with and without consciousness to alter their condition.”
“There is only one large circle that we march in, around and around, each of us with our own little picture — infront of us — our own little mirage that we think is the future.”
“Obviously the most oppressed of any oppressed group will be its women.”
“… the oppressed are by their nature … forever in ferment and agitation against their condition and what they understand to be their oppressors. If not by overt rebellion or revolution, then in the thousand and one ways they will devise with and without consciousness to alter their condition.”
“When you start measuring somebody, measure him right…Make sure you done take into account what hills and valleys he come through before he got wherever he is.”