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A Raisin In The Sun - Lorraine Hansberry

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People know American playwright Lorraine Vivian Hansberry for her play A Raisin in the Sun (1959).

This writer inspired "To Be Young, Gifted and Black," song of Nina Simone.

She, the first such Black woman, wrote a play, performed on Broadway. Her best known work highlights the lives of Blacks under racial segregation in Chicago. Family of the author struggled against segregation, challenging a restrictive covenant and eventually provoking the Supreme Court case Hansberry v. Lee. The title of the play was taken from the poem "Harlem" by Langston Hughes: "What happens to a dream deferred? Does it dry up like a raisin in the sun?"

Hansberry moved to city of New York and afterward worked at the pan-Africanist newspaper Freedom, where she dealt with intellectuals, such as Paul Robeson and W.E.B. du Bois. Much of her work during this time concerned the African struggle for liberation and their impact on the world. People identified Hansberry as a lesbian, and several of her works concern sexual freedom, an important topic. She died of cancer at the age of 34 years.

This groundbreaking play starred Sidney Poitier, Claudia McNeill, Ruby Dee and Diana Sands in the Broadway production which opened in 1959. Set on Chicago's South Side, the plot revolves around the divergent dreams and conflicts within three generations of the Younger family: son Walter Lee, his wife Ruth, his sister Beneatha, his son Travis and matriarch Lena, called Mama. When her deceased husband's insurance money comes through, Mama dreams of moving to a new home and a better neighborhood in Chicago. Walter Lee, a chauffeur, has other plans, however: buying a liquor store and being his own man. Beneatha dreams of medical school.

The tensions and prejudice they face form this seminal American drama. Sacrifice, trust and love among the Younger family and their heroic struggle to retain dignity in a harsh and changing world is a searing and timeless document of hope and inspiration. Winner of the NY Drama Critic's Award as Best Play of the Year, it has been hailed as a "pivotal play in the history of the American Black theatre." by Newsweek and "a milestone in the American Theatre." by Ebony.

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