Reimagining Biography: the Lorraine Hansberry Papers

Lorraine Hansberry: Reimagining Biography: drawing by Hansberry with text below: March 22, 2018, Schomburg Center, NYC. Panel conversation with Margaret Wilkerson, Imani Perry, Soyica Colbert, Tracy Heather Strain. Moderated by Joy-Ann Reid.

Reimagining Biography: the Lorraine Hansberry Papers

On March 22, 2018, the Lorraine Hansberry Literary Trust and the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture will co-present Lorraine Hansberry: Reimagining BiographyIn addition to the AMERICAN MASTERS documentary, Sighted Eyes|Feeling Heart, that aired on PBS in January 2018, three biographical treatments of the artist, activist, and public intellectual will be published in the next several years. Reimagining Biography panelists will be asked to address the feminisms, intersectionalities, political, and private-public voicings that shaped Hansberry’s life and her understanding of herself and the worlds she both lived in and created.

In 2010 the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture published an article, “Young, Gifted, Black, and Complicated: The Question of Lorraine Hansberry’s Legacy,” in their newsletter, Africana Heritage. In that article, Steven G. Fullwood, then Assistant Curator, Manuscripts, Archives, and Rare Books Division, Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture puts the incredible legacy of Lorraine Hansberry’s contribution as an artist, activist, public intellectual, and writer into context.

Fullwood points out the enormous gift for researchers and scholars have with access to the unusual depth and range of materials in the Lorraine Hansberry Papers, as generated by the executors of the Lorraine Hansberry Estate over the last 50 years.

“For many, A Raisin in the Sun is their first encounter with Hansberry. Few know about her other writings—plays, articles, short stories, poems, editorials—not to mention her work as a political activist. Even fewer know about her work as an associate editor for Freedom newspaper in the 1950s or that she had relationships with women.

While it is usually history’s prerogative to present people as flat and one-dimensional, one could easily surmise that Hansberry’s legacy, as complicated and as far-flung as any creative person’s could be, does not allow for simple rendering. Engaging her raging creativity and politics not only fascinate because, as Martin Luther King, Jr. noted, of Hansberry’s “profound grasp of the deep social issues” of the time, but because her work dealing with race, human rights, women’s equality, sexuality, predates the Black Power, Black Arts, Women’s, and Gay and Lesbian movements of the late 1960s.”

Lorraine Hansberry: Reimagining Biography

Thursday, March 22, 2018
Panel Discussion 6:30-8:00pm
Reception 8:00-9:00pm

Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture
515 Malcolm X Blvd (135th St and Malcolm X Blvd)
New York, NY, 10037

This is a free event, but as space is limited please RSVP here.

Lorraine Hansberry: Reimagining Biography panel will be introduced by Joi Gresham, the executive director of the Lorraine Hansberry Literary Trust, and moderated by Joy-Ann Reid (national correspondent, MSNBC). Panelists include Margaret Wilkerson (author of forthcoming Lorraine Hansberry: Am I a Revolutionary? and Professor Emerita of African Diaspora Studies and Theater, Dance, and Performance Studies at the University of California, Berkeley); Imani Perry (author of the forthcoming Looking for Lorraine: The Radiant and Radical Life of Lorraine Hansberry and a professor of African American Studies at Princeton University); Soyica Colbert (author of the forthcoming Lorraine Hansberry: Artist/Activist and professor of African American Studies and Theater & Performance Studies at Georgetown University); and Tracy Heather Strain, (director of Lorraine Hansberry: Sighted Eyes | Feeling Heart, PBS national broadcast January 2018).



Image Information: 


Pen & ink drawing on newspaper by Lorraine Hansberry. In 1948, Lorraine enrolled at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, where she took art classes. During the summer of 1949 she studied painting at the University of Guadalajara art workshop in Ajijic, Mexico and during the summer of 1950 she studied art at Roosevelt University in Chicago, Illinois.

Wednesday, March 21, 2018