In Honor of Lorraine Hansberry (1930-1965)

In honor of the 81st anniversary of the birth of playwright Lorraine Hansberry, on May 19th, 2011, above is the audio of a May 8, 1959 interview of Lorraine Hansberry by Mike Wallace who asks her some very socially relevant questions about aspirations of the Negro middle class and Black Nationalism. This interview is available on the LORRAINE HANSBERRY AUDIO COLLECTION (cover photo available from produced by Caedmon, an imprint of HarperCollins. An incredibly important collection. -RF.

Author: Dr. Rhone Fraser

Dr. Rhone Fraser is an independent writer and journalist born of Jamaican immigrants in Brooklyn, New York, on October 12, 1979. He moved to Florida in 1989 and graduated from Zephyrhills (FL) High School in 1997. He graduated from Yale University in 2001, after which time he taught in the public school systems in New Haven (CT) and the Bronx for three years. He then began writing independently and finished a documentary play on the life of Fannie Lou Hamer entitled, "Living Sacrifice," for which he still seeks publication. He earned his Ph.D. in African American Studies from Temple as of August 31, 2012. His dissertation was a literary and historical analysis of Pauline Hopkins, A. Philip Randolph and Paul Robeson. He also is a freelance editor and radio producer, and is currently producer of WPEB's Freedom Readers on 88.1 FM in Philadelphia.

7 thoughts on “In Honor of Lorraine Hansberry (1930-1965)”

  1. "Wow! I wish i could have met Ms. Hansberry. What a treasure!!"

    Dee Jay J.J.
    master dj
    East Orange, NJ USA

  2. A question ought to be asked: "Name one serious Black drama on today's TV?" Many may find it difficult. They can, however, find a slew of comedy. Think about it for a moment: are Black people's lives such a joke? Moreover, many of today's media simply depicts a 21st Century version of a minstrel show. Today's contemporary Black comedians are a foul mouthed, dressed up version of Stepin Fetchit. And please don't get me started on the Black female film/theater exploitation where they portray themselves the victims of Black males. Hansberry's depiction of Black men are responsible, soulfully poetic and perplexed individuals compared to a generation later and the onslaught Black male bashing: "The Color Purple"; "For Colored Girls", etc.

    As a retired art professor of a historically Black university, I included writers, artists, musicians, film and theater, etc. as part of the curriculum in both studio and lecture classes. I did this to enhance historical and aesthetic content of African diaspora because many Black students haven't a clue who Paul Robeson, Frantz Fanon, Loraine Hansberry were.

    I would be more than happy to hear comments from others.

  3. Yes I gladly concur. I wrote a dissertation on Freedom periodical, which Hansberry first wrote for, and from her very first article, she demanded developed, non-stereotypical images of African American men. One of her reviews in Freedom was on a play about Nat Turner which she praised for its depiction of Black men as dignified. There is still a lot of work to do in terms of improved images. I think a very qualified director in Oz Scott, a Black man, would not simplistically see Shange's "For Colored Girls" as intending to bash Black men. Shange was showing the effect that a racist society had on Black men, which is exactly what Hansberry told Wallace she was doing in "A Raisin in the Sun." This is not done to bash Black men but to encourage Black men like myself to be sensitive to how the society works, in an effort to alleviate or remove its oppressive nature on specifically Black men. -RF.

  4. Thank you for publishing this for me to listen to. One of the things this interview caused me to google was "Is Mike Wallace a racist"? Ms. Hansberry handled herself beautifully in this ambush of an interview. Wish she was still here. She's my mom's age – a few months apart. So glad she wrote it down! – and did so many interviews. Bless you for publishing. -J. Keitel, Dumont, NJ

  5. Hi Rhone, this interview looks interesting, but for some reason it doesn't seem to be working. Any chance you could re-upload the mp3 file?

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