This Day in Black History: May 19, 1930

Lorraine Hansberry, an African-American writer and activist, was born.

Posted: 05/19/2013 08:00 AM EDT

(Photo: Courtesy Everett Collection)

In Lorraine Hansberry's short life, she reached commercial success as a playwright and opened doors for other Black writers. Her story began in Chicago where she was born on May 19, 1930.

Hansberry enrolled in the University of Wisconsin in Madison as a painting major then switched to writing. She eventually left and moved to New York City after two years and attended the New School for Social Research.

While in New York, she worked part-time jobs and wrote for Paul Robeson's newspaper, Freedom. In 1956, she quit her jobs to focus on writing full-time. Hansberry also wrote about feminism and homophobia for The Ladder

Hansberry's claim to fame was her play A Raisin in the Sun, which became the first by an African-American to be produced on Broadway. The film version starred Sidney Poitier and won an award at the Cannes Film Festival. 

Before she died, Hansberry was active in the civil rights movement. She died at the age of 34 on Jan. 12, 1965, from pancreatic cancer.


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