Lorraine Vivian Hansberry
Playwright, Activist and AuthorLorraine Hansberry was the youngest American playwright ever to win the Best American Play Award from the New York Drama Critics’ Circle for A Raisin in the Sun. Her other works include The Sign in Sidney Brustein’s Window, and Les Blancs.
By Dale Ricardo Shields
(c) All Rights Reserved – iforcolor.org
“As long as the world has a problem with the fact that I am Black, I will make a point of honor to be one.”
~*****~“I would very much like to live in a world where some of the monumental problems could at least be solved; I’m thinking, of course, of peace. That is, we don’t fight. Nobody fights. We get rid of all the little bombs and the big bombs.”
“Black” was the racial description handwritten on Lorraine Vivian Hansberry’s birth certificate on May 19, 1930. The hospital had printed “Negro”, but Carl and Nannie Perry Hansberry, Lorraine’s parents, crossed out the hospital’s label and asserted the right to designate their child’s racial identity on their own terms. Carl and Nannie raised four children on the South Side of Chicago, Illinois. The granddaughter of a freed slave, Lorraine was the youngest of her four siblings: Carl, Jr., Perry, and Mamie. She was separated in age from her siblings by seven years, she often played alone. In addition, her family’s affluence separated her from her neighborhood peers.
Lorraine Hansberry is the niece of William Leo Hansberry, a profound and famous Howard University professor of African History in Washington D.C. until 1959. William Leo Hansberry also had a college at the University of Nigeria named after him.
Lorraine’s father, Carl Hansberry, was a successful businessman who had achieved success in real estate and banking even in the midst of the Great Depression. Her mother, Nannie Perry Hansberry, was a former schoolteacher, was a committeewoman. Lorraine’s parents were intellectuals, activists, and active members of the Republican party.