Born in 1930, Lorraine Hansberry was a writer and activist. With her play “Raisin in the Sun” Hansberry, at the age of 29, became the first black woman to have a play on Broadway. The play, which is considered an American classic and has been translated into 35 languages, almost didn’t make it to Broadway as investors were worried that the story of a black family would be a risky investment and not “universal enough” (something that was argued about in reviews at the time, and still an issue minority playwrights contend with). Prescient in the breadth and depth of it’s themes, the play ushered in a new black audience to Broadway and black artists. Other work includes “The Sign in Sidney Brustein’s Window” and “Les Blancs” published posthumously. A collection of her writing is “To Be Young, Gifted and Black: Lorraine Hansberry in Her Own Words,” which is also an Off-Broadway play. Hansberry died at the age of 34. For more information on her life and work, visit The Lorraine Hansberry Literary Trust.
Child, when do you think is the time to love somebody the most; when they done good and made things easy for everybody? Well then, you ain’t through learning — because that ain’t the time at all. It’s when he’s at his lowest and can’t believe in hisself ‘cause the world done whipped him so. When you starts measuring somebody, measure him right, child, measure him right. Make sure you done taken into account what hills and valleys he come through before he got to wherever he is.
Sidney Poitier, Ruby Dee, Claudia McNeil, and Diana Sands in the 1959 Broadway debut of Lorraine Hansberry’s “A Raisin in the Sun,” one of many plays focusing on “black family life, black community life or black culture’. The play premiered March 11th, 1959.
Lorraine Hansberry’s play A Raisin in the Sun was the first play written by an African-American woman to be produced on Broadway. Miss Hansberry was also the youngest American playwright to receive the New York Drama Critics Circle Award for Best Play.