Lorraine Hansberry. ``A Raisin in the Sun.'' A play about a black family integrating a Chicago neightborhood. First play on Broadway by a black female playwright. That was 1959. The film followed in 1961 starring Sidney Poitier, Ruby Dee, Diane Sands.
Hansberry had one more play: ``The Sign in Sidney Brustein's Window.'' The night it closed was the night Hansberry died, at age 34, of pancreatic cancer. The Lorraine Hansberry Theatre in San Francisco is named, of course, after her.
The first play I wrote I showed my Mom, Terry Hauk. She read it and then said diplomatically, ``Good first try, Steve, but I think you should read `A Raisin in the Sun.' ''
Very strange. It didn't occur to me until years later that it hadn't struck me as odd that my mother had read a play about a black family by a black writer. Not that I thought her at all bigoted. She wasn't, and she was a fine artist.
It just struck me, years later, that it was a strange thing for her to be reading in the conservative Midwest in those days.
Mom didn't annouce it was by a black female writer writing about a black family breaking racial barriers in Middle America while facing its own, personal demons. She just said read it, it's very good. And she was right.
And Hansberry dying so young was a terrible loss to literature and the theater.
Causes Steve Hauk Supports
City of Pacific Grove Public Library, Pacific Grove, California; Animal Friends Rescue Project, Pacific Grove; Animal Welfare Information and Assistance,...