When Lorraine Hansberry (1930-1965) was eight years old, her middle class family moved from Chicago's “Black Belt” to one of the city's restrictive covenant neighborhoods (i.e., neighborhoods where white homeowners agreed to not sell to Blacks). Violent protests around the Hansberry home erupted and lawsuits were filed with the case making it all the way to the US Supreme Court.
After studying at the University of Wisconsin and The New School (NYC), Hansberry worked at the black newspaper Freedom in New York City. In her spare time, she wrote a play. Drawing on her own experiences, A Raisin in the Sun, told the story of a Black family in Chicago. It was was a huge success on Broadway and Hansberry became the first Black playwright and the youngest playwright to win the New York Critics’ Circle award. Besides her writing career, Hansberry was active in the civil rights movement. Under a guarded identity, she also wrote about feminism and homophobia in The Ladder, the magazine of the Daughters of Bilitis, a lesbian organization.
Hansberry died of cancer at the age of 34. Her unpublished writings, speeches and journal entries were woven together to create the book and a stage play, To Be Young, Gifted and Black.
Why this stop? The King stop on the Green Line is 3 blocks of the Hansberry family home (where they were threatened by a white mob).
Listen to Studs Terkel interview Lorraine Hansberry (May 1959).
The image is a photo of Lorraine Hansberry's Legacy Walk plaque. Chicago's Legacy Walk is the world's only outdoor LGBTQ history museum.