Lorraine Hansberry Part 12 of 15 Black Authors
Probably one of the most prolific playwrights of our time, Lorraine Hansberry died way too soon. At only thirty-five and the peak of her career, Hansberry found herself taking on another battle, pancreatic cancer.
A fighter all of her life, Hansberry was born on the Southside of Chicago to affluent parents who were also fighters. Hansberry’s mother was a driving instructor, and her father was a real estate broker who moved his family into an area where at the time, Black people were not welcome or wanted.
Hansberry found herself in reading and writing and would become the first Black and youngest American to win the New York Critics Circle Award. Awards were not why she wrote; black awareness and self-consciousness were the reasons that she wrote. Hansberry wanted black people to look for information regarding their circumstances anywhere they could find it. Some might try to pigeonhole Hansberry and say that she was a bi-sexual feminist or a lesbian feminist, or even just a feminist. Hansberry was what we call WOKE. No title needed, no excuse and no explanation required. Her meeting with Robert Kennedy, along with the themes of her writing, showed how critical Black people and the Black experience was to her. I wonder what Hansberry would have to say about the MeToo Movement or Times Up or Black Lives Matter. I think that her actions would speak louder than her words. A Raisin In The Sun speaks to generations of people, and sadly, many of the messages it delivers are still in need of being received.
Not only does progress stagnate when there is no one to stand up and take the reins, but it is set back in larger quantities than any strides it ever made. Hansberry’s work is timeless because it came from a place of need and passion, and it tells a story of possibility. Thank you, Lorraine Hansberry. You were ahead of the times, and you died way too young.
Thank you for leaving us with a message and, more than that, with hope.