Lorraine Hanberry’s play, “A Raisin in the Sun,” was the first Broadway play written and produced by a black woman.
Hansberry was born in Chicago, Illinois on May 19, 1930. She became interested in theater while in high school. After high school she attended the University of Wisconsin for two years and studied drama and stage design.
She moved to New York in 1950 and began writing for Freedom, a progressive newspaper founded by Paul Robeson.
Hansberry married in 1953. Her husband’s success as a songwriter allowed her to quit work and concentrate on writing. She wrote A Raisin in the Sun in 1957. The play’s title came from Langston Hughes poem “Harlem: A Dream Deferred.”
A Raisin in the Sun which details the experiences of a black family in Chicago opened on Broadway on March 11, 1959.
The play won the New York Critics Circle Award for best drama.
Lorraine Hansberry was the first woman and the youngest person to receive the award.
NOTE: A Raisin in the Sun was revived on Broadway in 2004. It starred Sean “Puffy” Combs and Audra McDonald. It was revived again in 2014 and starred Denzel Washington and Sophie Okonedo. The 2014 revival won the Tony Award for Best Revival of a Play.