Illustration by Maria Manhattan
Lorraine Hansberry was born on May 19, 1930 and grew up in Chicago, Illinois—the daughter of a real estate broker when segregation and restrictive covenants meant that black renters and homeowners could not live in white neighborhoods. Her father challenged the status quo by purchasing a home and moving into such a community. This caused a violent incident, and the family fought back in a civil rights case that eventually led to the end of restrictive covenants. Hansberry’s childhood experiences form part of the basis for her best-known and most successful play, A Raisin in the Sun, 1959, a Pulitzer Prize winner and the first play written by an African American woman to be produced on Broadway.