Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Lorraine Hansberry speaks

Fifty years ago tonight – on March 11, 1959 – “A Raisin in the Sun” premiered on Broadway.

It was the first play by a black woman to be produced on the Great White Way. Lorraine Hansberry’s kitchen-sink drama is now an American classic.

Did you know that two original cast members from “A Raisin in the Sun” later found success as writers?

Lonne Elder III received an Oscar nomination for his screenplay “Sounder.” And Douglas Turner Ward co-founded the Negro Ensemble Company.

The Broadway cast also included a 12-year-old Glynn Turman... not to mention Sir Sidney and Ruby Dee and Lou Gossett and Ivan Dixon.

In memory of Lorraine Hansberry, I present a 3½-minute excerpt from a 1961 panel discussion in which she participated. It was called “The Negro in American Culture.”

Click here to stream it on my Vox blog.

(“The Negro in American Culture,” first broadcast on WBAI, is part of the Pacifica Radio Archives. You can download a half-hour of the program – which also features James Baldwin and Langston Hughes – from the Internet Archive for free.

(How mind-blowing is that?)


Eye D. VS Mel O. said...

great post... I checked out the link and the entire series of speeches by African American women sounds quite interesting. I must give it a listen

lawegohard said...

^ I agree. This is some thesis type stuff right here.

"Negroes do not sit around 24hrs a day thinking that I am a Negro."

She just sounds so boss! Like Michelle Obama, like Oprah, just Boss. I want to be just like her when I grow up.

This play has always stuck to me. Grew up on Langston hughes:

"What happens to a Dream Deferred? Does it dry up like a raisin in the sun."

Everybody got a Walter Lee in their life.

Anybody see Puffy/Diddy in the Play/film version of this?

daughterofthedream said...

We listened to this convo in my Black Radical Intellectual Tradition course. I can't believe she was in her 20s at the time!

bklyn6 said...

How did we go from "A Raisin in the Sun" to "Madea Goes to Jail"?

Anyway, thanks for posting.

Dollar Bill said...

I have the script to this at home and had been thinking of doing a reading from it for one of my Facebook Vlogs.

Either that or a scene from, The Blacks: A Clown Show by Jean Genet

Invisible Hand said...

Hansberry has been an inspiration for a long time. Her tragically short career is generally summed up for most by "Raisin", but I've always found particular meaning and kinship in her words from "To Be Young, Gifted and Black" -- particularly her diary entries. I was lucky enough to get a record of her talking about civil rights from ebay. Her work is far more revolutionary than one would imagine. Thanks for the post.

Kellybelle said...

Didn't know that about Lonnie Elder--did he write more after Sounder?