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A Raisin in the Sun: Lorraine Hansberry's Dream on Broadway


February 18th, 2014 - March 7th, 2014

In 1959, 28-year-old Chicago native Lorraine Hansberry won the New York Drama Critics’ Circle Award for her first play, A Raisin in the Sun. Hansberry (1930–1965) was the first African-American playwright to win a Critics’ Circle Award, and A Raisin in the Sun was the first play by an African- American woman to be produced on Broadway. The play focuses on the struggle of a black working class family for a better life in 1950s Chicago. The title of the play is taken from Langston Hughes’s famous poem “Harlem.”

This spring, A Raisin in the Sun returns to Broadway in a production starring Denzel Washington. To celebrate this revival, The New York Public Library presents materials from the Lorraine Hansberry Papers held by NYPL’s Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture.


Ruby Dee and Sidney Poitier in the original Broadway production of A Raisin in the Sun, 1959. Friedman-Abeles Studio. The New York Public Library, Billy Rose Theatre Division.



Lead Sponsor of The New York Public Library’s 2014 flash displays.

Support for The New York Public Library’s Exhibitions Program has been provided by Celeste Bartos, Sue and Edgar Wachenheim III, Mahnaz Ispahani Bartos and Adam  Bartos Exhibitions Fund, and Jonathan Altman.