Lorraine Vivian Hansberry

Lorraine Hansberry addresses airlift students from Lorraine Hansberry addressing the 81 students who came to the U.S. on the airlift from East Africa at an orientation session that lasted several days. Seventy-nine students were from Kenya, one from Tanganyika (later renamed Tanzania), and one from Uganda. Hansberry was one of the African Americans who the American Committee on Africa arranged to be speakers and counselors for the orientation session. Hansberry was a playwright, and her well-regarded play A Raisin in the Sun opened on Broadway that year with Sidney Poitier (also a supporter of the airlift) in the cast. (Source: Airlift to America: How Barack Obama, Sr., John F. Kennedy, Tom Mboya, and 800East African Students Changed Their World and Ours by Tom Shachtman (St. Martin’s Press, 2009)                 Photo courtesy of Cora Weiss. ”       Collection: Private collection of Cora and Peter WeissEast Africa

"Seems like God don't see fit to give the black man nothing but dreams - but He did give us children to make them dreams seem worthwhile." --Lorraine Hansberry

Seems like God don’t see fit to give the Black man nothing but dreams – but He did give us children to make them dreams seem worthwhile.”
— Lorraine Hansberry


Hansberry’s Influence after Death:

  At the age of 34 years old, Hansberry’s promising career was cut short due to her premature death. The works she left behind continued to be published and performed: Hansberry’s To Be Young, Gifted, and Black, adapted from her writings, was produced Off-Broadway in 1969.  It also appeared in book form the next year. Les Blancs, a drama set in Africa, was first presented by Konrad Matthaei at the Longacre Theatre, New York City, November 15, 1970, and toured nationally for two years.  Hansberry made the first draft of play as early as in 1960. It began to find its shape the next year, although she still wrote a number of drafts. After her death, Robert Neminoff, her ex-husband, continued to work on it as her literary executor and completed a preliminary draft in 1966.