Lorraine Vivian Hansberry


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While the Chicago Defender knew the importance of the U.S. Supreme Court's "Hansberry" decision, most of Chicago's white (and then, racist) press realized that what the Supreme Court orders for Chicago Chicago can undo. Thus, in the late 1970s, Substance could find property owners on Chicago's Northwest Side still honoring restrictive covenants that were supposedly declared unconstitutional 30 years earlier -- and Chicago had become more segregated than it was when her father's fight inspired Lorraine Hansberry's play. While the Chicago Defender knew the importance of the U.S. Supreme Court’s “Hansberry” decision, most of Chicago’s white (and then, racist) press realized that what the Supreme Court orders for Chicago Chicago can undo. Thus, in the late 1970s, Substance could find property owners on Chicago’s Northwest Side still honoring restrictive covenants that were supposedly declared unconstitutional 30 years earlier — and Chicago had become more segregated than it was when her father’s fight inspired Lorraine Hansberry’s play.

thLorraine HansberryThis experience served as loose inspiration for Lorraine Hansberry’s play A Raisin in the Sun. Lorraine eventually graduated from Englewood High School. Lorraine graduated high school in 1948, after her graduation Lorraine is said to have studied many areas in many parts of the country, and for that matter the world. Among the places reported include: the University of Chicago, The Art Institute of Chicago, The New School of Social Research in New York, in Guadalajara, and at the University of Wisconsin a predominantly white university, to study journalism, but was equally attracted to the visual arts. She integrated an all-white women’s dormitory and became active in the campus chapter of the Young Progressive Association, a national left-wing student organization, serving as its president during her sophomore year. During her time at the University, she saw a production of Sean O’ Casey’s play Juno and the Paycock about the problems of a downtrodden family in Dublin in 1922. It is supposed to have inspired her most well known and endearing play A Raisin In The Sun. Lorraine left Wisconsin after two years and moved to New York City in 1950.” Her writing has been shaped by the works of Langston Hughes, William Shakespeare, W.E.B Du Bois, and Frederick Douglass

College and Years of Development:   Hansberry initially attended the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 1948. However, she found college uninspiring and left in 1950 to pursue her career as a writer in New York City. She took classes in writing at The New School an institution located in New York City. Lorraine Hansberry also worked as an associate editor for Paul Robeson’s radical black magazine, which was titled Freedom.  During this time Hansberry met Langston Hughes, a leader in the Harlem Renaissance, a time period during the 1920’s and 30‘s that saw an African American movement and development of literature and arts. Langston Hughes works would deeply influence Lorraine Hansberry and her theatrical works.

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