Inspiration for this writing is a reflection. October, years ago, my father died (age 52) from black lung cancer, after working half of his life in a steel mill. Coincidentally, I just finished re-reading the novel, A Raisin in the Sun, produced as a play, which I saw several times. One of my fondest memories was taking my nephew (Woodrow, named in honor of my father) and his classmate to Ashland, Oregon, to see the theater production of A Raisin in the Sun.
Lorraine Vivian Hansberry (May 19, 1930 – January 12, 1965) was a playwright and writer who died at the age of 34 of pancreatic cancer. She was the first African-American female author to have a play debuted on Broadway in 1959. Her work, A Raisin in the Sun, highlights the lives of Black Americans living under racial segregation in Chicago, as they attempt to improve their financial circumstances with an insurance payout following the death of the father. The title of the play was taken from the poem Harlem by Langston Hughes: “What happens to a dream deferred? Does it dry up like a raisin in the sun?” At the age of 29, Lorraine won the New York Drama Critics’ Circle Award—named the best play in 1959, making her the first African-American dramatist, the fifth woman, and the youngest playwright to do so.