New Biography More Fully Defines Playwright Lorraine Hansberry
Karen Grigsby Bates from the Code Switch team reflects on the book she’s reading for Morning Edition on National Public radio: Looking for Lorraine: The Radiant and Radical Life of Lorraine in interview with biographer Imani Perry.
KAREN GRIGSBY BATES: Raisin remains one of the most produced works by a black American playwright. Looking For Lorraine: The Radiant And Radical Life Of Lorraine Hansberry shows she was more than this beloved play, though, says biographer Imani Perry.
IMANI PERRY: She was a feminist before the feminist movement. She was - identified as a lesbian and thought about gay rights organizing before the gay rights movement. She was an anti-colonialist before all of the independences had been won in Africa and the Caribbean.
GRIGSBY BATES: In other words, she was intersectional before that became a thing. And, says Perry...
PERRY: She reveled in her identity, even as she railed against injustice.
GRIGSBY BATES: In the early '60s, black impatience with segregation was growing. Black Americans were trying to gain their rights peacefully, and the national pace felt slow. In 1964, after protesters proposed blocking streets to tie up traffic, some New Yorkers were outraged. At a town hall meeting, Hansberry said this.
(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)
LORRAINE HANSBERRY: It isn't as if we got up today and said, you know, what can we do to irritate America, you know?
HANSBERRY: It's because that since 1619, Negroes have tried every method of communication, of transformation of their situation.
Find the full interview and transcript here.