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Lorraine Hansberry (1930 – 1965)

Through the month of October, Pride Soc will be using this account to highlight some queer, Black women who may have been sidelined or overlooked by history.

bhmprofilesBlack History Month
Lorraine Hansberry

 Lorraine Hansberry (1930 – 1965) was a playwright and civil rights activist, as well as being the first Black playwright and the youngest American to win a New York Critics’ Circle award for ‘Raisin in the Sun.’ Originally titled ‘The Crystal Stair’, Raisin followed a struggling Black family in Chicago, inspired by people Hansberry knew personally. The play opened at the Ethel Barrymore Theatre on March 11, 1959, and was a great success, having a run of 530 performances. It was the first play produced on Broadway by an African American woman; the film version of A Raisin in the Sun was completed in 1961, starring Sidney Poitier, and received an award at the Cannes Film Festival. 

Before writing Raisin, Hansberry was still a writer, originally attending the New School for Social Research in New York and then working for Paul Robeson’s progressive Black newspaper, Freedom, as a writer and associate editor from 1950 to 1953. In 1957, she joined the Daughters of Bilitis and contributed letters to their magazine, The Ladder, about feminism and homophobia. Her lesbian identity was exposed in the articles, but she wrote under her initials, L.H., for fear of discrimination. She was married to a man, Robert Nemiroff, a Jewish writer, who shared many of Hansberry's political views. However, she still identified as a lesbian, despite not being 'out' in the traditional sense as homosexuality was illegal in New York City at the time.

Thank you to the Pride Society and Kit Lashmar for supplying the profiles. Head over to their Instagram to see more profiles being published through out October. 


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