The Legacy Series: Lorraine Hansberry

During the month of February, Kappa Theta Epsilon not only celebrates our Founding Day; we celebrate the contributions of African-American lesbian women. In honor of the accomplishments of these distinguished individuals, the Sorority is proud to present The Legacy Series.

ARTIST. ACTIVIST. INTELLECTUAL. ICON.

Born into a prominent family on May 19th, 1930, Lorraine Vivian Hansberry’s life could have been one of relative ease, given the times.

Instead, she devoted her efforts to fighting for freedom and justice for people of all backgrounds…

After the death of her father when she was 16, Lorraine became politically active.

She dropped out of university, and after moving to New York, joined Paul Robeson’s activist newspaper, FREEDOM.

A gifted writer and critically acclaimed playwright, Hansberry penned the world-renowned play A Raisin in the Sun. She was the first African-American woman to have a work run on Broadway.

Though she married in the early 1950s, Hansberry questioned her sexuality soon after.

In 1957, she began writing for The Ladder, a lesbian publication created by the Daughters of Bilitis. Out of fear of public backlash, she signed her letters with her initials.

Sadly, Lorraine was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer at the height of her career. Shortly after her diagnosis, she said:

‘I wish to live because life has within it that which is good, that which is beautiful, and that which is love. Therefore, since I have known all of these things, I have found them to be reason enough and – I wish to live.

Moreover, because this is so, I wish others to live for generations and generations and generations and generations.’

Nina Simone’s 1970 hit To Be Young, Gifted and Black, was written in her honor.