A Concealed Voice Rings Loud and Clear
In his review of “Twice Militant: Lorraine Hansberry’s Letters to The Ladder,” John Schwartz of the New York Times explores Hansberry’s letters to the The Ladder, the first subscription-based lesbian publication in the United States, published monthly from 1956–1970 by a lesbian civil rights group called the Daughters of Bilitis in San Francisco. Schwartz notes that “the letters reveal a woman joyous about being able to discuss sexual identity, same-sex attraction, feminism and more.”
Schwartz also notes that the exhibit is part of an ongoing exhibition calendar for the Herstory Gallery: “Catherine Morris, curator for the Sackler Center, said that the exhibition follows her view of how best to use the small, fourth-floor space known as the Herstory Gallery. Artifacts like the copies of The Ladder, she said, address biographical questions and facts about a person’s life that open up a dialogue. People whose lives are featured in the gallery are drawn from the permanent exhibition adjacent to it, “The Dinner Party” a room-size landmark work by Judy Chicago.”
Other artifacts on display include Hansberry’s handwritten lists to herself on her birthdays, typewritten essays on “the homosexual question,” a poem titled “Le Masque,” a notebook with a drawn self-portrait, and a listening station with Hansberry’s 1959 conversation with Studs Terkel, where Hansberry states, “Obviously, the most oppressed group of any oppressed group will be its women, who are twice oppressed. So I imagine that they react accordingly: As oppression makes people more militant, women become twice militant, because they are twice oppressed.”
“Twice Militant: Lorraine Hansberry’s Letters to The Ladder” was exhibited in the Herstory Gallery of the Elizabeth A. Sackler Center for Feminist Art from November 22, 2013 through March 16, 2014. The Herstory Gallery is devoted to subjects that explore the significant contributions of the women named in The Dinner Party by Judy Chicago. The exhibit was organized by Catherine Morris, Sackler Family Curator for the Elizabeth A. Sackler Center for Feminist Art, Brooklyn Museum.