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 Biography. The four panelists will share how they navigated the feminisms, intersectionalities, political, and private-public voicings that shaped Hansberry’s life in their biographical treatments of the artist, activist, and public intellectual.

Over the last two weeks we have been sharing information about the Lorraine Hansberry: Reimagining Biography panel participants as well as information about the Lorraine Hansberry Papers, held at the Schomburg Center. Today we are sharing the essay used for the liner notes for the 1971 cast recording of To Be Young, Gifted, and Black (Caedmon records, TRS 342) written by Lorraine Hansberry’s ex-husband and executor of the Lorraine Hansberry estate, Robert Nemiroff.

As Steven G. Fullwood says in his essay, To Be Young, Gifted, Black and Complicated: The Question of Lorraine Hansberry’s Legacy, “. . . Hansberry’s former husband, Robert Nemiroff, was proactive in keeping Hansberry’s works—and legacy—very much alive. Shortly after her death, in addition to handling Hansberry’s literary estate, Nemiroff began building an archive of Hansberry’s materials, reaching out to people she knew or with whom she worked, and institutions where she had worked or appeared as a speaker.”

 “Lorraine Hansberry, participating both as a dramatist and as a leader in the historic liberation efforts of our time, left a legacy of commitment to the struggles of the disinherited and oppressed. Lorraine Hansberry’s philosophy was summed up by the artist herself in an address to young Black writers:

“What I write is not based on the assumption of idyllic possibilities or innocent assessments of the true nature of life—but, rather, my own personal view that, posing one against the other, I think that the human race does command its own destiny and that that destiny can eventually embrace the stars. . .”

                                                                                                                                                           —from “Born Black and Female” by Robert Nemiroff, 1971

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 will be introduced by Joi Gresham, the executive director of the 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 drawn 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.

Thursday, March 22, 2018