American novelist and playwright Lorraine Hansberry was inducted into the National Women’s Hall of Fame over the weekend, joining nine other women who made history for their achievements in science, government and literature.
Hansberry, who died of cancer in 1965 at the age of 34, was represented by her sister, Mamie who accepted the induction on her behalf. The luncheon and induction ceremony also celebrated 100 years since suffragists gained the right to vote in New York State. The country would later follow suit, passing the 19th Amendment in 1920.
[Related] Why the Baobab Cultural Center is the perfect place to learn your history
“The National Women’s Hall of Fame honors the women of the past, relates the history of women’s struggles, prepares the women of the future and serves as the voice celebrating the value of women,” states the Hall’s website.
Hansberry was best known for her novel A Raisin in the Sun but she made history as the first black woman to write a play performed on a Broadway stage.She was a vocal critic of American society and advocated for the rights of Black Americans. Her family was esteemed, visited by W.E.B. DuBois (who she worked with while at the Freedom newspaper) and Paul Robeson, a famous singer and actor.
Hansberry joins other inductees Marian Anderson, the first Black singer to perform with the Metropolitan Opera, Maya Angelou, and Gwendolyn Brooks, an author and poet who was the first Black woman to win the Pulitzer Prize.
“I think she’d be quite happy,” said Mamie Hansberry when asked about how her critical sister would see progress made since her death in the height of the Civil Rights era. She added that former president Barack Obama now stays in the housing her father fought for decades ago.
“My father always knew we’d have a black president,” she said. “We were an optimistic family.”
Hansberry joins inductees the Honorable Matilda Raffa Cuomo, Dr. Temple Grandin, Victoria Jackson, Sherry Lansing, Clare Booth Luce, Aimee Mullins, Lt. Gen. Carol A. Mutter, Dr. Janet D. Rowley and Alice Waters. Visit the Hall’s website to learn more.