Why We’re Still Looking for Lorraine Hansberry

Daniel A. Jackson at The Point:

When Lorraine Vivian Hansberry died on January 12, 1965, her play The Sign in Sidney Brustein’s Window was at the end of a three-month run at Broadway’s Longacre Theatre. It was the second play written by a black woman to appear on Broadway. The first was her groundbreaking drama A Raisin in the Sun. Ntozake Shange’s for colored girls who have considered suicide when the rainbow is enuf, the third, opened in 1976. Remembrances of Shange published last year, after her death, called for colored girls “the second play by an African American woman” to have a Broadway run. In writing my own remembrance of Shange, I nearly made the same mistake. We are prone to myopia when we remember, and it can make inconvenient details difficult to decipher. Jewell Handy Gresham-Nemiroff, in charge of Hansberry’s estate for fourteen years, wrote that Hansberry is “not really credited, to the extent deserved, with being Mother of the modern black drama.” The scholar Margaret Wilkerson called Hansberry one of the “major literary catalysts” of the Black Arts Movement. Both are true, yet The Sign in Sidney Brustein’s Window, which Hansberry worked on feverishly during hospital stays at the end of her life, is not a black drama.

more here.