This Day in Black History: March 11, 1959

A Raisin in the Sun, the first Broadway play produced by a Black woman, Lorraine Hansberry, debuted at the Ethel Barrymore Theatre.

Posted: 03/11/2014 12:00 AM EDT
A Raisin in the Sun

A Raisin in the Sun, the first Broadway play produced by a Black woman, Lorraine Hansberry, debuted on March 11, 1959, at the Ethel Barrymore Theatre starring Sidney Poitier and Claudia McNeil. The play, which was influenced by the poem "Harlem," also known as "A Dream Deferred" by Langston Hughes, is based on a struggling Black family’s experience in the Washington Park neighborhood in Chicago.

A Raisin in the Sun was titled The Crystal Stair and was Hansberry’s first play she wrote after leaving her job as a writer. Nevertheless it was well received lasting for 530 performances. The play was so successful that Hansberry became the first Black playwright and the youngest American to win a New York Critics’ Circle award.

The play did so well it was adapted into a film in 1961 and received an award at the Cannes Film Festival. Today A Raisin in the Sun is a staple on Broadway. Stars such a Phylicia Rashad, Diddy and Sanaa Lathan, and now Denzel Washington and Anika Noni Rose, have performed in the American classic.

Follow Dominique Zonyéé on Twitter: @DominiqueZonyee.

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(Photo: Broadway)

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