Lorraine Hansberry (1930-1964)

Lorraine Hansberry

Lorraine Hansberry was an African American writer born in Chicago to a wealthy family. Her parents were activists who challenged the Jim Crow Laws. She often saw Paul Robeson, W.E.B. Dubois and other civil rights leaders as a child who helped her understand the civil rights issues of the time. She attended the University of Wisconsin but left school to go to New York where she found a job as a reporter for Freedom, a progressive black newspaper. She was in her 20’s when she wrote her best known work, the play “ A Raisin in the Sun” which dealt with race issues of the time.  The title of the play was from a work by Langston Hughes poem with the line that says, "What happens to a dream deferred? / Does it dry up like a raisin in the sun, / Or does it explode?” The play won the New York Drama Critics Circle Award. Hansberry was the 5th woman, the youngest, and the first black woman to win it.  Sadly, she lost a bout with cancer and died at age 34.


Works Cited:

  • Article and image are from the NWHM Spring 2004 Newsletter