Lorraine Vivian Hansberry was born May 19, 1930 in Chicago and raised in a
middle-class family. When Hansberry was only eight years old she had her first
experience with civil rights. Her father fought a lengthy legal battle in the late 1930's
against harsh covenants which kept Chicago's blacks in the ghettos. To make a statement
the family moved into an all white neighborhood which was against the law at that time.
The house was often vandalized and the children were faced with hostility as they walked
to and from school. Hansberry's father fought the city's Jim Crow laws all the way to the
Supreme Court and won. This whole experience would later serve as an inspiration for
Lorraine Hansberry's play "A raisin in the Sun".
Hansberry attended the University of Wisconsin for two years and then studied
painting in Chicago and Mexico, before she realized she had no talent for it. Moving to
New York in 1950, she held many jobs, while perfecting her skill as a writer. Hansberry
said, "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". She became involved in the civil rights movement and married a
white jewish man; their marriage would only last a few years before Hansberry began
exploring her feelings for women. She joined the Daughter of Blitis, a pioneering lesbian
organization and had two letters published in their journal, "The Ladder". However, it
was for her play "A Raisin in the Sun", that she received her praise.
Hansberry was the first black to direct a play on Broadway since 1907. "A Raisin
in the Sun" won the New York Drama Critics' Circle Award. Hansberry was also named
the most promising playwright of the season by Variety's poll of New York Drama
Critics. She wrote other...