Lorraine Hansberry
Presentation by: Mrs. Woit
Early Life
• Born in Chicago
May 1930
• Her parents were well
educated and
successful
• She lived in Chicago’s
Southside in a black
neighborhood
During this era…
• Segregation was still legal and widely
spread through the south
• Northern states had no official policy, but
most were generally segregated
• Chicago was strictly divided among black
and white neighborhoods
• Hansberry’s family was one of the first to
move into a white neighborhood
On a “Raisin in the Sun”
• Recognizably
autobiographical
• Realistic portrait of
African American life
• Opened as a play in
1959
• It was met with great
praise from black and
white audiences
• Won several awards
The 1950’s
• An age of complacency and conformism
• Symbolized the growth of suburbs and
commercial culture
• The ideas of “the happy housewife and
blacks content with their inferior status”
• This resulted in an upswell of public
resentment which led to the civil rights and
feminist movements of the 1960’s
Can anyone define the American
Dream????
In her play Hansberry explored…
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Poverty
Discrimination
African American racial identity
the oppressive white community of 1950
Feminism
Abortion
DREAMS (VERY IMPORTANT)
Dreams
• Dreams are CRUCIAL.
• They motivate and drive the
main characters
• They function in positive ways by
lifting their minds from tough
work and life
• And in negative ways..by
creating more dissatisfaction
• Most of this is due to emphasis
on materialistic goals rather than
on pride and happiness
A note on the title “Raisin in the
Sun”
• Taken from a 1951 poem by Langston
Hughes “Harlem”
• Written after the Great Depression
CRUSHED the Harlem Renaissance and
devastated black communities
• The poem captures the tension between
the need for black expression and
America’s oppression of its black
community
“Harlem”
• What happens to a dream deferred?
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Does it dry up
like a raisin in the sun?
Or fester like a sore—
And then run?
Does it stink like rotten meat?
Or crust and sugar over—
like a syrupy sweet?
•
Maybe it just sags
like a heavy load.
•
Or does it explode?
Thoughts….
• Hughes asked
whether a “dream
deferred” withers up
like a raisin in the
sun? These thoughts
as well as
Hansberry’s confront
the racist and
dehumanizing attitude
prevalent in the
American society
Her end…
• Sadly, Hansberry died
at the young age of
34 of a courageous
battle with cancer.
Yet, her fight for
equality lives on
through the power of
her words in “A Raisin
in the Sun”