May 19, 1930: The Birth of Playwright, Lorraine Hansberry

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Born on this day, Lorraine Vivian Hansberry. Hansberry grew up on the South Side of Chicago. She was the youngest of Nannie and Carl Hansberry’s four children. Her father founded Lake Street Bank, one of the first banks for blacks in Chicago.

Hansberry was the first black woman to have a play performed on Broadway. Hansberry’s play “A Raisin in the Sun” was based upon the lives of working-class African Americans who rented from her father and attended school on the South Side of Chicago.

After high school, Hansberry attended the University of Wisconsin but left before receiving a degree. She later moved to New York in the 1950s, where she began her career as a writer. While in New York, she met and married her Robert Nemiroff, a Jewish writer.

In 1956, her husband and Burt D’Lugoff wrote the hit song, “Cindy, Oh Cindy.” The profits from the song allowed Hansberry to quit working and devote herself to writing.

Hansberry’s second Broadway play, “The Sign in Brustein’s Window, ran on Broadway for over 100 performances. The play closed on January 12, 1965, the same day Hansberry died from cancer, she was 35.



Lorraine Hansberry Biography

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