Lorraine Hansberry: The Life Behind A Raisin in the Sun

by Charles J. Shields looks briefly into the fascinating, complex legacy and all-too-short life of Lorraine Hansberry. The first Black woman to have her play performed on Broadway, Hansberry achieved enormous success with A Raisin in the Sun at just 28 years old. The play is both specific to a moment in history and timeless in its themes, its characters, and the lives it depicts. Shields’s biography delves into Hansberry’s background and how her childhood, her ideals, and her politics influenced her career. Growing up in Chicago to a father who built slums much like the one depicted in Raisin, Hansberry’s discomfort with this led to her becoming a committed Marxist with strong critiques of capitalism. She was also a queer Black woman interested in pushing back against traditional gender roles, and in conversation with some of the most progressive intellectuals of the time. (Non-Fiction)