Princeton University professor Imani Perry’s latest book, “Looking for Lorraine: The Radiant and Radical Life of Lorraine Hansberry,” highlights the anti-racist and anti-sexist activism and thought leadership that permeated the 34-year-life of its titular subject. Perry told NPR on Saturday (September 22) that the “A Raisin in the Sun” playwright’s work, both within and beyond the theater, defined her as a progressive and trailblazing figure in United States racial justice history.
“She was a feminist before the feminist movement,” Perry explains about the first Black female writer to mount a Broadway production. “She was identified as a lesbian and thought about gay rights organizing before the gay rights movement. She was an anti-colonialist before all of the independences had been won in Africa and the Caribbean.”
Perry goes on to discuss other aspects of Hansberry’s narrative that “Looking for Lorraine,” released on September 18, illuminates. Those details include her critique of then-Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy’s civil rights work as insufficient, friendships with Nina Simone and James Baldwin (the latter of which Perry addressed in a book passage that Buzzfeed News excerpted last week) and her marriage to White producer Robert Nemiroff. Listen to the segment: