Lorraine Hansberry crystallized important facets of American life as few playwrights ever have. "A Raisin in the Sun" is an acknowledged classic of stage and film. Her other great play, "A Sign in Sidney Brustein's Window," is a theatrical scalpel, dissecting political, social, gender, and intellectual issues of the 1960s. Before her untimely death at the age of 34, Lorraine Hansberry produced such other important works as the autobiographical "To Be Young, Gifted and Black" and the posthumously-produced "Les Blancs," a drama of revolution in Africa. Almost from the first production of her work, Hansberry has been subject to varying and conflicting interpretations which derive from various aspects of her identity: as an American, an African-American, a woman, and an artist. She has been claimed by various groups, all of which have, at one time or another, been accused of "kidnapping" her work for their own views of society's most pressing problems.
Besides being a major artist, Lorraine Hansberry was an effective activist in the Civil Rights movement of the 1950s and 1960s. Along with a number of other African-American Artists, she was responsible for influencing Robert F. Kennedy's stance on Civil Rights and for shaping Civil Rights legislation of the 1960s.
Lorraine Hansberry was also a key member of the circle of artists and intellectuals who made Greenwich Village ground zero for cultural and social innovation in the 50s and 60s. She was a spiritual colleague of many of the writers, artists, musicians, political radicals, sexual adventurers, and free spirits who made the Village their home.
In this conference, scholars, former colleagues, and interpreters of Lorraine Hansberry's work discuss her as an artist, an activist, a colleague, and a friend. Among those who have agreed to participate are: Jewel Gresham (executor of the Hansberry estate,) Margaret Wilkerson (Hansberry biographer,) Lisbeth Saab (University of Upsala, Sweden,) Art D'Lugoff (former proprietor of the Village Gate,) Burt D'Lugoff (long-time friend of Lorraine Hansberry,) Woodie King, Jr. (New Federal Theatre,)and Clyde Taylor (NYU Africana Studies Department.)
Additional papers are welcome.
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