By the time Lorraine Hansberry died in 1965 at just 34 years old, she had already made her mark in literary history. Her play “A Raisin In The Sun” gave a voice to black America, particularly on Chicago’s South Side.
But while Hansberry is known for her most famous work (and as being the first black woman to bring a play to the Broadway stage), she was also a force of nature who led a complicated life that included a strong commitment to social justice and civil rights, anti-colonialism, and LGBT rights. Her world was also filled with black intellectuals, and activists, from James Baldwin, to W.E.B. Du Bois, to Nina Simone to Malcolm X.
Beyond her literary contributions, however, Hansberry’s life hasn’t been deeply explored—until a recent documentary and author Imani Perry’s new book Looking For Lorraine: The Radiant and Radical Life of Lorraine Hansberry. In it, Perry provides an intimate portrait of the writer—her influences, her beliefs, and her battle.