About Lorraine Hansberry

In its second year of operation, Noble Auburn Gresham College Prep changed its name to Hansberry College Prep to honor Lorraine Hansberry, an African American writer, playwright and activist who grew up on Chicago’s South side. Ms. Hansberry’s life and work embodied many of the characteristics we wish to develop within the students of Hansberry College Prep.

Lorraine Hansberry (1930 – 1965)

Lorraine Hansberry is a celebrated playwright and activist from Chicago best known for her play, A Raisin in the Sun. When Lorraine was a child, the Hansberry family moved into white neighborhood with restrictive covenants used to prevent African-Americans from buying homes in the area. Her father, who was active in the NAACP and the Urban League, challenged the restrictions, ultimately leading to the US Supreme Court case Hansberry vs. Lee which ruled restrictive covenants illegal. Coming from an activist family, Lorraine’s childhood influenced her later work with the civil rights movement.

She attended University of Wisconsin-Madison, majoring in writing, and went on to study in New York at the New School for Social Research where she began writing professionally while working other jobs. She worked as a Writer and Associate Editor for the progressive African-American newspaper Freedom founded by Paul Robeson while also traveling and teaching classes at the Frederick Douglass School in Harlem. She finished A Raisin in the Sun in 1957 and it became the first play produced on Broadway by an African-American woman; she became the youngest American and first African-American playwright to win a New York Critics’ Circle Award. Hansberry was also active in the civil rights movement, generating support for the Student Non-Violent Coordination Committee activist group and joining civil rights leaders to meet with Attorney General Robert Kennedy to discuss his position on the rights movement.