Lorraine Hansberry (May 19, 1930 - January 12, 1965) was an
American playwright and litigant in the United States Supreme Court
case, Hansberry v. Lee.
Hansberry attended the University of Wisconsin-Madison and
worked on the staff of Freedom magazine. It was at that time she
wrote A Raisin in the Sun. The play was a huge success. It was the
first play written by an African-American woman and produced on
Broadway. It also received the New York Drama Critics Award making
Hansberry the youngest and first African American to receive the
After her success with A Raisin in the Sun, Hansberry became the
foremother of African-American drama. She also contributed to the
understanding of abortions, discrimination, and Africa. In San
Francisco, The Lorraine Hansberry Theatre, which specializes in
original stagings and revivals of African-American theatre, is
named in honor of her. Singer and pianist Nina Simone, who was a
close friend of Hansberry, used the title of her unfinished play to
write a civil rights-themed song "To Be Young, Gifted and Black"
together with Weldon Irvine. The single reached the top 10 of the
R&B charts. A studio recording by Simone was released as a
single and the first live recording on October 26, 1969 was
captured on Black Gold (1970).