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Lorraine Hansberry is a writer and activist born in May 1930, born and raised in Chicago, Illinois. Hansberry is an African American woman, born in the Depression era although, because of her father’s relative wealth they were considered middle class. Though their position on the economic ladder they still experienced extreme racism and segregation. She attended an overcrowded public school for African American students located in the ghettos. As she grew up she read books in her father’s library, she developed a strong mindset about the greatness of Africa and its ancient civilizations. She also learned about colonialism in Africa and its impact on the people. She soon drew a parallel between the exploited Africans and the subjugated African Americans. These early influences foreshadow the inspiring work she created in her later age. “Without a doubt, the play A Raisin in the Sun was a historically and culturally significant rhetorical production.” (Lipari 81). Hansberry shows her personal views and experiences of inequality and injustice of African Americans throughout her play, A Raisin in the Sun.

There were specific examples showing racism and oppression that happened in both Hansberry’s life and in her play A Raisin in the Sun that support the above research question. For example, as a young girl, Hansberry and her family moved into a white neighborhood which came with challenges due to segregation. The white community of the neighborhood was so angry they moved in, and the community threw bricks through the Hansberry family window. This was taken to court and the Hansberry were court-ordered to vacate the home. Her father became so furious, that he brought this case to the U.S. Supreme Court. This became the court case known as Hansberry v. Lee’s decision of 1940. In the play A Raisin in the Sun, The youngsters decide to move into a predominantly all white neighborhood. Before they even move in “Mr. Lindner [a white man] who comes from the ‘welcome committee’ of the new neighborhood to ask the Youngers not to move into it at all [and offers to pay them not to move]: ‘I want you to believe me when I tell you that race prejudice simply doesn’t enter into it…As I say, that for all concerned that our Negro families are happier when they live in their communities” (Saber 452). The Youngers refuse this offer and decide to move in any way, despite all of the hate towards them. As does Hansberry’s father, “The Youngers make their decision in the end, the fact of racial oppression, unspoken and alluded to, other than the fact of how they live ” (Saber 453).

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As stated above, Hansberry was “born into material comfort on the southside of Chicago and she grew us as a part of the middle class and was therefore given some opportunities denied to others… this background which must be acknowledged” (Wilkerson 450). In the eyes of a young girl, it can be brought to the light, seeing her family getting treated differently because of her race, it could be seen why young Hansberry could have been discouraged; asking herself, why can my friends live in this neighborhood but I cannot? Why can’t we go to this side of town? All of these questions and discouragement that were put upon Hansberry at birth sent many other African-Americans into the shadows, but not Lorine Hansberry. Since Hansberry was taught at a young age to have “pride in the family and never to betray the race” (Wilkerson 450) she chose to use her experiences to fuel her writing career and write about the injustices in American society. In Lorine Hansberry’s play, she was able to show all Americans

Which is one of the themes of her play A Raisin in the Sun. Overcoming this adversity at such a young age turned Hansberry into the strong, activist, and powerful writer that she once was.

The segregation and unrightful treatment she experienced and witnessed are “experiences she would in part recount in her first dramatic work, A Raisin in the sun” (Abell 460). Hansberry holds strong beliefs about the means of African Americans and the civil rights they should attain. “These beliefs surfaced in the situations of the characters in the play” (Abell 461). For example, the character Travis Younger represents the innocence and purity of Hansberry’s younger self. Mama’s strong will to change stereotypes and oppression towards African Americans as does Hansberry’s father does, going to court fighting for their house lastly Beneatha shows open-mindedness and wants to learn about African american culture represents young Lorraine reading her father’s books and wanting to learn more about her African American culture.

“The aim of [Hansberry for this play] is asserting black racial pride. It was an attempt to cross racial lines and not to see everything through sharp black-white dichotomies, but to form a kind of racial settlement and to end racial oppression” (Murray 277). Hansberry does this through her personal experiences and views throughout the characters, themes, and events that relate to both her life and her play. The play A Raisin in the Sun by Lorraine Hansberry shows her personal experiences from life in a metaphorical way, while this literary essay explains how she was able to show her experiences.

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