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Lorraine Hansberry and the House That Inspired 'A Raisin in the Sun'

Daniel Hautzinger
Lorraine Hansberry with her typewriter. Photo: David Attie
Photo: David Attie

Lorraine Hansberry: American Masters is available to stream by WTTW Passport members.

Lorraine Hansberry is most famous for her essential 1959 play A Raisin in the Sun, which she wrote at the young age of 29 (she only lived to be 34, dying of pancreatic cancer in 1965). The drama, about a black family faced with intimidation when they try to move into a white neighborhood in Chicago, is based on Hansberry's own life experience. In 1938, her father Carl Hansberry bought a home in the white neighborhood of Washington Park and incurred litigation that eventually ended up at the Supreme Court, achieving an important win against restrictive racial covenants and opening up white neighborhoods to black buyers across the country.

Chicago Tonight revisits the real-life story behind A Raisin in the Sun in this segment from 2010.