Lorraine Hansberry ….. “A Raisin in the Sun”!!


~~May 19, 2014~~ 

Lorraine Hansberry, author of “A Raisin in the Sun”—she was born today in 1930! When it opened in 1959, the play was the first written by an African-American woman to make it to Broadway.

Lorraine Vivian Hansberry (May 19, 1930 – January 12, 1965) was an American playwright and writer. Hansberry inspired Nina Simone’s song “To Be Young, Gifted and Black“.

She was the first black woman to write a play performed on Broadway. Her best known work, the play A Raisin in the Sun, highlights the lives of Black Americans living under racial segregation in Chicago.

Hansberry’s family had struggled against segregation, challenging a restrictive covenant and eventually provoking the Supreme Court case Hansberry v. Lee. The title of the play was taken from the poem “Harlem” by Langston Hughes: “What happens to a dream deferred? Does it dry up like a raisin in the sun?”

After she moved to New York City, Hansberry worked at the Pan-Africanist newspaper Freedom, where she dealt with intellectuals such as Paul Robeson and W. E. B. Du Bois. Much of her work during this time concerned the African struggle for liberation and their impact on the world.

Hansberry has been identified as a lesbian, and sexual freedom is an important topic in several of her works. She died of cancer at the age of 34.

Lorraine Hansberry
Lorraine Hansberry.jpg
Born Lorraine Vivian Hansberry
May 19, 1930
Chicago, Illinois, U.S.
Died January 12, 1965 (aged 34)
New York City, New York, U.S.
Occupation Playwrightwriterstage director
Nationality American
Education University of Wisconsin–Madison
The New School
Spouse(s) Robert Nemiroff (m. 1953–62)

~~Family~~

Lorraine Hansberry was the youngest of four children born to Carl Augustus Hansberry, a successful real-estate broker, and Nannie Louise (neé Perry) a school teacher. In 1938, her father bought a house in the Washington Park Subdivision of the South Side of Chicago, violating a restrictive covenant and incurring the wrath of their white neighbors. The latter’s legal efforts to force the Hansberry family out culminated in the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Hansberry v. Lee. The restrictive covenant was ruled contestable, though not inherently invalid. Carl Hansberry was also a supporter of the Urban League and NAACP in Chicago. Both Hansberrys were active in the Chicago Republican Party. Carl died in 1946, when Lorraine was fifteen years old; “American racism helped kill him,” she later said.

The Hansberrys were routinely visited by prominent Black intellectuals, including W.E.B. Du Bois and Paul Robeson. Carl Hansberry’s brother, William Leo Hansberry, founded the African Civilization section of the history department at Howard University. Lorraine was taught: ‘‘Above all, there were two things which were never to be betrayed: the family and the race.’’

Lorraine Hansberry has many notable relatives including director and playwright Shauneille Perry, whose eldest child is named after her. Her grand-niece is actress Taye Hansberry. Her cousin is the flautist, percussionist, and composer Aldridge Hansberry.

Hansberry became the godmother to Nina Simone‘s daughter Lisa — now Simone.

~~Marriage and sexuality~~

On June 20, 1953, she married Robert Nemiroff, a Jewish publisher, songwriter and political activist. Hansberry and Nemiroff moved to Greenwich Village, the setting of The Sign in Sidney Brustein’s Window. Success of the song “Cindy, Oh Cindy“, co-authored by Nemiroff, enabled Hansberry to start writing full-time.

It is widely believed that Hansberry was a closeted lesbian, a theory supported by her secret writings in letters and personal notebooks. She was an activist for gay rights and wrote about feminism and homophobia, joining the Daughters of Bilitis and contributing two letters to their magazine, The Ladder, in 1957 under her initials “LHN.” She separated from her husband at this time, but they continued to work together.

A Raisin in the Sun was written at this time and completed in 1957.

~~Beliefs~~

On her religious views, Hansberry was an atheist.

According to historian Fanon Che Wilkins, “Hansberry believed that gaining civil rights in the United States and obtaining independence in colonial Africa were two sides of the same coin that presented similar challenges for Africans on both sides of the Atlantic.” In response to the independence of Ghana, led by Kwame Nkrumah, Hansberry wrote: “The promise of the future of Ghana is that of all the colored peoples of the world; it is the promise of freedom.”

Regarding tactics, Hansberry said Blacks “must concern themselves with every single means of struggle: legal, illegal, passive, active, violent and non-violent. They must harass, debate, petition, give money to court struggles, sit-in, lie-down, strike, boycott, sing hymns, pray on steps — and shoot from their windows when the racists come cruising through their communities.”

In a Town Hall debate on June 15, 1964, Hansberry criticized white liberals who couldn’t accept civil disobedience, expressing a need “to encourage the white liberal to stop being a liberal and become an American radical.” At the same time, she said, “some of the first people who have died so far in this struggle have been white men.”

Hansberry was a critic of existentialism, which she considered too distant from the world’s economic and geopolitical realities. Along these lines, she wrote a critical review of Richard Wright’s The Outsider and went on to style her final play Les Blancs as a foil to Jean Genet’s absurdist Les Nègres. However, Hansberry admired Simone de Beauvoir’s The Second Sex.

In 1959, Hansberry commented that women who are “twice oppressed” may become “twice militant”. She held out some hope for male allies of women, writing in an unpublished essay: “If by some miracle women should not ever utter a single protest against their condition there would still exist among men those who could not endure in peace until her liberation had been achieved.”

Hansberry was appalled by the nuclear bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki which took place while she was in high school, and expressed desire for a future in which: “Nobody fights. We get rid of all the little bombs — and the big bombs.” She did believe in the right of people to defend themselves with force against their oppressors.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation began surveillance of Hansberry when she prepared the Montevideo peace conference. The Washington, D.C. office searched her passport files “in an effort to obtain all available background material on the subject, any derogatory information contained therein, and a photograph and complete description,” while officers in Milwaukee and Chicago examined her life history.

Later, an FBI reviewer of Raisin in the Sun highlighted its Pan-Africanist themes as dangerous.

~~Death~~

After a battle with pancreatic cancer she died on January 12, 1965, aged 34. James Baldwin believed “it is not at all farfetched to suspect that what she saw contributed to the strain which killed her, for the effort to which Lorraine was dedicated is more than enough to kill a man.”

Hansberry’s funeral was held in Harlem on January 15, 1965. Paul Robeson and SNCC organizer James Forman gave eulogies. The presiding minister, Eugene Callender, recited messages from Baldwin and the Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr. which read: “Her creative ability and her profound grasp of the deep social issues confronting the world today will remain an inspiration to generations yet unborn.”

She is buried at Asbury United Methodist Church Cemetery in Croton-on-Hudson, New York.

~~Legacy~~

Raisin, a musical based on A Raisin in the Sun, opened in New York in 1973, winning the Tony Award for Best Musical, with the book by Nemiroff, music by Judd Woldin, and lyrics by Robert Britten. A Raisin in the Sun was revived on Broadway in 2004 and received a Tony Award nomination for Best Revival of a Play. The cast included Sean Combs (“P Diddy”) as Walter Lee Younger Jr., Phylicia Rashad (Tony Award-winner for Best Actress) and Audra McDonald (Tony Award-winner for Best Featured Actress). It was produced for television in 2008 with the same cast, garnering two NAACP Image Awards.

In 2002, scholar Molefi Kete Asante listed Hansberry as one of his 100 Greatest African Americans.

The Lorraine Hansberry Theatre of San Francisco, which specializes in original stagings and revivals of African-American theatre, is named in her honor. Singer and pianist Nina Simone, who was a close friend of Hansberry, used the title of her unfinished play to write a civil rights-themed song “To Be Young, Gifted and Black” together with Weldon Irvine. The single reached the top 10 of the R&B charts. A studio recording by Simone was released as a single and the first live recording on October 26, 1969, was captured on Black Gold (1970).

Lincoln University‘s first-year female dormitory is named Lorraine Hansberry Hall. There is a school in the Bronx called Lorraine Hansberry Academy, and an elementary school in St. Albans, Queens, New York, named after Hansberry as well.

On the eightieth anniversary of Hansberry’s birth, Adjoa Andoh presented a BBC Radio 4 programme entitled “Young, Gifted and Black” in tribute to her life.

In 2013, Lorraine Hansberry was posthumously inducted into the American Theatre Hall of Fame.

~~SOURCE~~

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lorraine_Hansberry#cite_note-Blau-1

https://www.facebook.com/womenshistory?fref=photo

https://www.facebook.com/amightygirl?fref=photo

https://www.youtube.com/user/hansberrydoc

~~Works~~

A Raisin in the Sun (1959)
A Raisin in the Sun, screenplay (1961)
“On Summer” (essay) (1960)
The Drinking Gourd (1960)
What Use Are Flowers? (written c. 1962)
The Arrival of Mr. Todog – parody of Waiting for Godot
The Movement: Documentary of a Struggle for Equality (1964)
The Sign in Sidney Brustein’s Window (1965)
To Be Young, Gifted and Black: Lorraine Hansberry in Her Own Words (1969)
Les Blancs: The Collected Last Plays / by Lorraine Hansberry. Edited by Robert Nemiroff (1994)
Toussaint. This fragment from a work in progress, unfinished at the time of Hansberry’s untimely death, deals with a Haitian plantation owner and his wife whose lives are soon to change drastically as a result of the revolution of Toussaint L’Ouverture. (From the Samuel French, Inc. catalogue of plays.)

~~Lorraine Hansberry: Mini – DOCUMENTARY~~

~~Uploaded on Jan 10, 2011~~

Lorraine Hansberry (May 19, 1930[1] — January 12, 1965) was an African American playwright and author of political speeches, letters, and essays. Her best known work, A Raisin in the Sun, was inspired by her family’s legal battle against racially segregated housing laws in the Washington Park Subdivision of the South Side of Chicago during her childhood.

Hansberry attended the University of Wisconsin — Madison, but found college uninspiring and left in 1950 to pursue her career as a writer in New York City, where she attended The New School. She worked on the staff of the black newspaper Freedom under the auspices of Paul Robeson, and worked with W. E. B. DuBois, whose office was in the same building. A Raisin in the Sun was written at this time, and was a huge success. It was the first play written by an African-American woman to be produced on Broadway.

At 29 years, she became the youngest American playwright and only the fifth woman to receive the New York Drama Critics Circle Award for Best Play. While many of her other writings were published in her lifetime – essays, articles, and the text for the SNCC book The Movement, the only other play given a contemporary production was The Sign in Sidney Brustein’s Window.

We ALL are ONE!! 

~~To Be Young, Gifted And Black – Nina Simone – Live – 1986~~

~~Uploaded on Mar 20, 2010~~

The Video “To Be Young, Gifted And Black” by Nina Simone was recorded in front of the liveconcert at 21 December 1986 in Zürich by ISIS VOICE.

All Rights Reserved © Produced by ISIS VOICE Bern – Switzerland A listen to the magic of “ISIS VOICE” production © Dr. Nina Simone & ISIS VOICE, Suzanne E. Baumann

Will never be forgotten!

Google Doodle …. Percy Williams 115th birthday!


Percy Julian's 115th Birthday

~~April 11, 2014~~

Today, Google celebrates what would have been the 115th birthday of Percy Julian, a chemist whose research led to chemical birth control and immune-suppressing medications.

Julian was born in Alabama on April 11, 1899, at a time when his city of Montgomery didn’t provide public education for black students post-middle school. Despite this, Julian persevered and ended up both attending and excelling at Indiana’s DePauw University. He later returned to the university to work on synthesizing plant products into medicine, where he found much success; some of his accomplishments include creating a synthetic cortisone to inexpensively treat arthritis and discovering a treatment for glaucoma.

Julian received many honors in (and after) his lifetime, including being the first black chemist to be elected to the National Academy of Sciences.

He passed away in 1975.

Percy Lavon Julian (April 11, 1899 – April 19, 1975) was a U.S. research chemist and a pioneer in the chemical synthesis of medicinal drugs from plants. He was the first to synthesize the natural product physostigmine, and a pioneer in the industrial large-scale chemical synthesis of the human hormones progesterone and testosterone from plant sterols such as stigmasterol and sitosterol. His work laid the foundation for the steroid drug industry’s production of cortisone, other corticosteroids, and birth control pills.

He later started his own company to synthesize steroid intermediates from the Mexican wild yam. His work helped greatly reduce the cost of steroid intermediates to large multinational pharmaceutical companies, helping to significantly expand the use of several important drugs.

Julian received more than 130 chemical patents. He was one of the first African-Americans to receive a doctorate in chemistry. He was the first African-American chemist inducted into the National Academy of Sciences, and the second African-American scientist inducted from any field.

Percy Lavon Julian
Percy Lavon Julian.jpg
Julian circa 1940–1950

BornApril 11, 1899
Montgomery, AlabamaDiedApril 19, 1975 (aged 76)
Waukegan, IllinoisOccupationChemistSpouse(s)Anna Roselle JohnsonChildrenPercy Lavon Julian, Jr.
(1940–2008)
Faith Roselle Julian
(1944– )ParentsElizabeth Lena Adams
(1878–?)
James Sumner Julian
(1871–1951)

~~Early life and education~~

Percy Julian was born in Montgomery, Alabama as the first child of six born to James Sumner Julian and Elizabeth Lena Julian, née Adams. Both of his parents were graduates of what was to be Alabama State University. His father, James, whose own father had been a slave, was employed as a clerk in the Railway Service of the United States Post Office, while his mother, Elizabeth, worked as a schoolteacher. Percy Julian grew up in the time of racist Jim Crow culture and legal regime in the southern United States. Among his childhood memories was finding a lynched man hanged from a tree while walking in the woods near his home. At a time when access to an education beyond the eighth grade was extremely rare for African-Americans, Julian’s parents steered all of their children toward higher education.

Julian attended DePauw University in Greencastle, Indiana. The college accepted few African-American students. The segregated nature of the town forced social humiliations. Julian was not allowed to live in the college dormitories and first stayed in an off-campus boarding home, which refused to serve him meals. It took him days before Julian found an establishment where he could eat. He later found work firing the furnace, waiting tables, and doing other odd jobs in a fraternity house; in return, he was allowed to sleep in the attic and eat at the house. Julian graduated from DePauw in 1920 Phi Beta Kappa and valedictorian. By 1930 Julian’s father would move the entire family to Greencastle so that all his children could attend college at DePauw. The father was still working as a railroad postal clerk.

After graduating from DePauw, Julian wanted to obtain his doctorate in chemistry, but learned it would be difficult for an African-American. Instead he obtained a position as a chemistry instructor at Fisk University.

In 1923 he received an Austin Fellowship in Chemistry, which allowed him to attend Harvard University to obtain his M.S. However, worried that white American students would resent being taught by an African-American, Harvard withdrew Julian’s teaching assistantship, making it impossible for him to complete his Ph.D. at Harvard.

In 1929, while an instructor at Howard University, Julian received a Rockefeller Foundation fellowship to continue his graduate work at the University of Vienna, where he earned his Ph.D. in 1931. He studied under Ernst Späth and was considered an impressive student. In Europe, he found freedom from the racial prejudices that had nearly stifled him in the States. He freely participated in intellectual social gatherings, went to the opera and found greater acceptance among his peers. Julian was one of the first African-Americans to receive a Ph.D. in chemistry, after St. Elmo Brady and Edward M. A. Chandler.

After returning from Vienna, Julian taught for one year at Howard University, where he met his future wife, Anna Roselle Johnson (Ph.D. in Sociology, 1937, University of Pennsylvania). They married on December 24, 1935 and had two children: Percy Lavon Julian, Jr. (August 31, 1940 – February 24, 2008), who became a prestigious civil rights lawyer in Madison, Wisconsin; and Faith Roselle Julian (1944– ), who still resides in their Oak Park home and often makes inspirational speeches about her father and his contributions to science.

At Howard, Julian became involved in university politics, setting off an embarrassing chain of events. At the university president’s request, he goaded a white chemist named Jacob Shohan into resigning. Shohan retaliated by releasing to the local African-American newspaper the letters Julian had written to him from Vienna. The letters contained accounts of Julian’s sex life and criticism of individual Howard faculty members. Then Julian’s laboratory assistant, Robert Thompson, charged he had discovered his wife together with Julian in a sexual tryst. When Thompson was fired for filing a lawsuit against the University, he too gave the paper racy letters which Julian had written to him from Vienna. Through the summer of 1932, the Baltimore Afro-American published all of Julian’s letters.

Eventually, the scandal and accompanying pressure forced Julian to resign. He lost his position and everything he had worked for.

At the lowest point in Julian’s career, his former mentor, William Blanchard, threw him a much-needed lifeline. Blanchard offered Julian a position to teach organic chemistry at DePauw University in 1932. Julian then helped Josef Pikl, a fellow student at the University of Vienna, to come to the United States to work with him at DePauw.

In 1935 Julian and Pikl completed the total synthesis of physostigmine and confirmed the structural formula assigned to it. Robert Robinson of Oxford University in the U.K. had been the first to publish a synthesis of physostigmine, but Julian noticed that the melting point of Robinson’s end product was wrong, indicating that he had not created it. When Julian completed his synthesis, the melting point matched the correct one for natural physostigmine from the calabar bean.

Julian also extracted stigmasterol, which took its name from Physostigma venenosum, the west African calabar bean that he hoped could serve as raw material for synthesis of human steroidal hormones. At about this time, in 1934, Butenandt and Fernholz, in Germany, had shown that stigmasterol, isolated from soybean oil, could be converted to progesterone by synthetic organic chemistry.

~~Legacy and honors~~

~~Patents~~

~~Nova documentary~~

Ruben Santiago-Hudson portrayed Percy Julian in the Public Broadcasting Service Nova documentary about his life, called Forgotten Genius. It was presented on the PBS network on February 6, 2007, with initial sponsorship by the Camille and Henry Dreyfus Foundation and further funding by the National Endowment for the Humanities. Approximately sixty of Julian’s family members, friends, and work associates were interviewed for the docudrama.

Production on the biopic began at DePauw University‘s Greencastle campus in May 2002 and included video of Julian’s bust on display in the atrium of the university’s Percy Lavon Julian Science and Mathematics Center. Completion and broadcasting of the documentary program was delayed in order for Nova to commission and publish a matching book on Julian’s life.

~~According to University of Illinois historian James Anderson in the film~~

His story is a story of great accomplishment, of heroic efforts and overcoming tremendous odds … a story about who we are and what we stand for and the challenges that have been there and the challenges that are still with us.”

~~SOURCES~~

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Percy_Lavon_Julian

http://www.njacs.org/wp-content/docs/Julian.html

https://acswebcontent.acs.org/percy_julian/

http://www.neh.gov/humanities/2007/januaryfebruary/feature/percy-julian

http://science.howstuffworks.com/innovation/scientific-experiments/10-black-scientists.htm/printable

~~Black History in Oak Park: Who was Percy Julian?~~

~~Published on Feb 5, 2013 – Summary~~

Percy Lavon Julian (April 11, 1899 – April 19, 1975) was an American research chemist and a pioneer in the chemical synthesis of medicinal drugs from plants. He was the first to synthesize the natural product physostigmine; and was a pioneer in the industrial large-scale chemical synthesis of the human hormones, steroids, progesterone, and testosterone, from plant sterols such as stigmasterol and sitosterol. His work would lay the foundation for the steroid drug industry’s production of cortisone, other corticosteroids, and birth control pills.

Around 1950 Julian moved his family from Chicago to the village of Oak Park, Illinois, where the Julians were the first African-American family. Although some residents welcomed them into the community, there was also opposition by some. Their home was fire-bombed on Thanksgiving Day, 1950, before they moved in. After the Julians had moved to Oak Park, the house was attacked with dynamite on June 12, 1951. The attacks galvanized the community and a community group was formed to support the Julians.

~~FOR YOUR CONTRIBUTIONS TO MANKIND, THANK YOU PERCY JULIAN~~

We ALL are ONE!!