Ahead of Her Time

Ahead of Her Time

Lorraine Hansberry was an African-American playwright and author, and the first black female writer to have a play performed on Broadway. She is best known for the Broadway smash hit, A Raisin in the Sun, which she wrote in 1959 on the cusp of the civil rights movement.

Lorraine Hansberry was also an activist. A Raisin in the Sun shines a light on the lives of black Americans living in segregated neighborhoods in Chicago. When she moved from Chicago to NYC, her work continued to tell the story of the struggle for equality. 

Hansberry, in her role as a writer, worked on the Civil Rights movement, global issues, gay rights, and women's rights.

According to historian Fanon Che Wilkins, "Hansberry believed that gaining civil rights in the United States and obtaining independence in colonial Africa were two sides of the same coin that presented similar challenges for Africans on both sides of the Atlantic."

She was a radical who believed in using every available tactic - harassment, debate, petition, sit-in, lie-down, strike, boycott, sing, pray - to attain civil rights. 

In 1959 she commented that "women who are twice oppressed may become twice militant."

At her funeral in 1965 (she died young, at age 34, of pancreatic cancer) a message from Dr. Martin Luther King read, "her creative ability and her profound grasp of the deep social issues confronting the world today will remain an inspiration to generations yet unborn."

Lorraine Hansberry was a woman who refused to bow down. May her bravery and fortitude inspire women of all nations today.


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