Lorraine Hansberry and Gwendolyn Brooks: Darlings of the white liberal establishment?

Lorraine Hansberry and Gwendolyn Brooks: Darlings of the white liberal establishment?

Debuting in July 2020, professors Cornel West and Tricia Rose navigate the balance between hope and uncertainty in their weekly program, The Tight Rope.

In the March 11, 2021 episode—the 62nd anniversary of the Broadway premiere (March 11, 1959) of Lorraine Hansberry’s “A Raisin in the Sun”—West and Rose discuss the role of Gwendolyn Brooks and Lorraine Hansberry as “revolutionaries and exemplars who are often misunderstood as the “darlings of the white liberal establishment.” In particular, they “discuss the tension between the relation of love and freedom (interpersonal justice) on the one hand and the struggle for political and economic justice on the other, while expertly explaining why and how some of the authors’ most popular works are still misinterpreted in the modern world as less revolutionary than they reveal themselves to be beneath the surface.”

Cornell West: “There's something about the black intellectual tradition, there's something about the black literary tradition that lends itself to the centrality of the genius of Black women…The degree to which they were both deeply committed to the black community as a whole, deeply invested in the artistry and the politics of Black radical freedom. But at the same time, they were both deeply misunderstood and sort of forced into choosing between a certain kind of recognition and fame and the community as a whole.” (19:20)

Dr. Tricia Rose is the Director of the Center for the Study of Race and Ethnicity in America at Brown University. She also holds the Chancellor’s Professorship of Africana Studies and serves as the Associate Dean of the Faculty for Special Initiatives. Focusing on issues relating to race in America, mass media, structural inequality, popular culture, gender and sexuality, and art and social justice, Rose engages widely in scholarly and popular audience settings, and now also on The Tight Rope.

Dr. Cornel West was most recently the Professor of the Practice of Public Philosophy at Harvard University and will move to Union Theological Seminary in 2021. A prominent democratic intellectual, social critic, and political activist, West brings his focus on the role of race, gender, and class in American society to The Tight Rope.

The March 11 episode can be found here, with full captions and a transcript.

Thursday, March 11, 2021