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“A Raisin in the Sun” is possibly one of the most well-known dramas of its time. The play about a black family in the 1930s struggling for a better life by moving into a segregated white neighborhood has been adapted as a film and TV movie. Despite the story being well known, many may not realize the inspiration comes from this actual house in Chicago.
The producer/playwright, Lorraine Hansberry, lived on Chicago’s South Side. Her father, a successful real estate broker, moved his young family into the white, racially restricted community of Woodlawn in 1938, amid great resistance from his neighbors. Despite threats and a brick thrown through a window, the family refused to move until a court order was issued. The family took the case to the Supreme Court, which eventually outlawed racially restrictive covenants.
This traumatic experience inspired Lorraine Hansberry to create "A Raisin in the Sun." Her family was also a part of the Civil Rights movement, which led her to become an activist and artist who used her art and craft to shine a light on social injustices and fight for equal rights.
In 1959, "A Raisin in the Sun” was the first drama by an African American woman to be produced on Broadway. The New York Times called it "the play that changed America forever." Hansberry was the first black playwright and the youngest American to win a New York Critics’ Circle award. The play and its revivals in 2004 and 2014 have continued to win Tony Awards and new generations of fans.