TIMELINE

April 30, 1895 Lorraine Hansberry's father, Carl Augustus Hansberry, Sr., is born in Gloster, Mississippi
June 24, 1898 Lorraine Hansberry's mother, Nannie Louise Perry, is born in Columbia, Tennessee
1903 In Dahomey, the first Broadway musical written by an African American, opens
1909 National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) is founded
1909-1916 Carl Augustus Hansberry attends Alcorn A&M College
1914-1918 World War I
1916-1918 Nannie Louise Perry attends Tennessee State University
1916 Great Migration of African Americans from the South to Northern cities begins. Carl Augustus Hansberry and Nannie Louise Perry take part
1917 Chicago Urban League is founded to help migrants adjust to city life
1919 Carl Augustus Hansberry meets Nannie Louise Perry working at Binga National Bank, the first Black bank in Chicago
June 1, 1919 Carl Augustus Hansberry and Nannie Louise Perry marry
October 2, 1919 Lorraine Hansberry's uncle, Dr. Lewis Harrison Johnston, and his three brothers are lynched by a white mob in Elaine, Arkansas
February 19, 1920 Lorraine Hansberry's brother, Carl Augustus Hansberry, Jr., is born
June 4, 1921 Lorraine Hansberry's brother, Perry Hansberry, is born
1923 Willis Richardson's The Chip Woman's Fortune, a one-act play and the first non-musical by a Black playwright on Broadway, opens
April 2, 1923 Lorraine Hansberry's sister, Mamie Hansberry, is born
August 2, 1924 Writer James Baldwin is born in Harlem
1925 Garland Anderson's Appearances, the first full-length, non-musical by a Black playwright on Broadway, opens
May 19, 1925 Malcolm X is born in Omaha, Nebraska as Malcolm Little
October 1929 United States stock market crashes, signalling the start of The Great Depression
October 29, 1929 Lorraine Hansberry's future husband, Robert Barron Nemiroff, is born
May 19, 1930 Lorraine Vivian Hansberry is born
October 24, 1935 Langston Hughes's Mulatto, the longest-running, non-musical play by a Black playwright, opens on Broadway at the Vanderbilt Theater
May 27, 1937 Carl Augustus Hansberry, Sr. moves his family to a home in the Woodlawn neighborhood's all-white Washington Park subdivision in defiance of a restrictive covenant
May 26, 1938 U.S. Congress establishes House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC)
1940 Carl Augustus Hansberry, Sr. runs unsuccessfully for Congress as a Republican
November 12, 1940 U.S. Supreme Court rules in favor of Carl Augustus Hansberry, Sr. in the case of Hansberry v. Lee. Although the decision enables the Hansberry’s to remain in their home in Woodlawn and opens new homes to African Americans in Chicago, restrictive covenants remain legal
1941 Paul Robeson is placed under FBI surveillance
December 7, 1941 The Japanese bomb Pearl Harbor. The United States enters World War II
1942 Congress of Racial Equality (CORE), an interracial organization with the goal of obtaining racial equality in America through nonviolent resistance, founded in Chicago
November 3, 1945 Willie McGee, a married, African American, father of four, is arrested for the rape of Wilmetta Hawkins, a white woman
1946 Joseph McCarthy is elected to U.S. Senate
March 11, 1946 Carl Augustus Hansberry, Sr. dies suddenly in Mexico of a cerebral hemorrhage while planning to move his family there
1947 HUAC begins first round of hearings
January 1948 Lorraine Hansberry enrolls at the University of Wisconsin
April 1948 Lorraine Hansberry attends a performance of Sean O'Casey's Juno and the Paycock at the University of Wisconsin, inspiring her to become involved in theater
May 3, 1948 U.S. Supreme Court abolishes restrictive covenants nationwide with the Shelley v. Kraemer decision
Summer 1948 Lorraine Hansberry participates in the Henry Wallace campaign. Wallace runs as a Progressive Party candidate for president
July 26, 1948 President Harry Truman ends racial segregation in the U.S. military with Executive Order 9981
September 1948 Lorraine Hansberry joins the Communist Party
November 1948 Progressive Party candidate Henry Wallace loses his run for president to incumbent President Harry S. Truman
August 29, 1949 The Soviet Union has its first successful nuclear weapon test
October 1, 1949 Mao Zedong forms the People’s Republic of China
August 27, 1949 Paul Robeson's arrival in Peekskill, NY for a concert triggers a riot
1950 Lorraine Hansberry leaves the University of Wisconsin to pursue "an education of another kind"
July 25, 1950 Paul Robeson's attempt to renew his passport is denied by the State Department
August 16, 1950 Sidney Poitier stars in No Way Out, his first leading role
1950 Mattachine Society, one of the first gay rights organizations, is founded in Los Angeles
Fall 1950 Lorraine Hansberry moves to New York City
September 1950 Lorraine Hansberry's poem "Flag from a Kitchenette Window," is published in Masses & Mainstream, an American Marxist monthly
November 1950 Paul Robeson founds Freedom newspaper in Harlem, publishing an "introductory issue" with the editor Louis Burnham. Lorraine Hansberry works for the paper as a "subscription clerk, receptionist, typist, and editorial assistant"
1951 Robert Nemiroff receives his Bachelor of Arts degree from NYU
1951 House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC) holds its second round of hearings
January 1951 First issue of Freedom is published
Spring 1951 Lorraine Hansberry travels to Mississippi with a delegation of women to petition the Governor for a stay of execution for Willie McGee
May 8, 1951 Willie McGee is executed after protests on his behalf and several stays of execution
July 1951 Lorraine's poem about Willie McGee's execution, "Lynchsong," is published in Masses & Mainstream
July 16, 1951 Roosevelt Ward, Lorraine Hansberry's friend from the Labor Youth League, is arrested for draft evasion
Fall 1951 Lorraine Hansberry joins The Sojourners for Truth, a delegation of 132 Black women seeking an end to war and racial discrimination, in Washington, DC
1952 American Psychiatric Association adds homosexuality to its list of mental disorders
1952-1960 Mau Mau Uprising takes place in Kenya. Lorraine Hansberry will later portray these events in her unfinished play Les Blancs
February 1952 Lorraine Hansberry becomes associate editor of Freedom after eight months
March 13, 1952 Lorraine Hansberry travels to Montevideo, Uruguay to speak on behalf of Paul Robeson at the Intercontinental Peace Conference. Her passport is revoked upon her return to the U.S. and the FBI begins lifelong surveillance of her
July 1952 Lorraine Hansberry meets Robert Nemiroff
November 4, 1952 Dwight D. Eisenhower is elected president
December 1952 Lorraine Hansberry resigns from full time work at Freedom to focus on creative writing
1953 Simone de Beauvoir's The Second Sex is published in the U.S.
1953 Diana Sands makes her debut as Juliet in the off-Broadway production of An Evening With Will Shakespeare
June 22, 1953 Mattachine Society beings publishing ONE Magazine, a monthly periodical for homosexuals
January 22, 1953 Claudia McNeil makes her Broadway debut in Arthur Miller's The Crucible
June 19, 1953 Lorraine Hansberry and Robert Nemiroff join protesters against the execution of Ethel and Julius Rosenberg, convicted for treason for selling nuclear secrets to the Soviet Union
June 20, 1953 Lorraine Hansberry marries Robert Nemiroff in her mother's home in Chicago
September 24, 1953 Louis Gossett, Jr. makes his Broadway debut in Take a Giant Step as Spencer Scott
May 17, 1954 United States Supreme Court rules in Brown v. Board of Education, that "separate but equal" doctrine regarding school segregation is unconstitutional
November 24, 1954 Medgar Evers is named the NAACP's first field secretary for Mississippi
February 1955 Dorothy Dandridge becomes the first Black woman nominated for an Academy Award for Best Actress for her performance in Carmen Jones
June 1955 Freedom newspaper ends publication
August 28, 1955 14 year old Emmett Till is lynched by white men in Mississippi for flirting with a white, female store clerk
October 1955 Village Voice begins publication
October 1955 Daughters of Bilitis (DOB), a lesbian organization, is founded in San Francisco
December 1, 1955 Rosa Parks is arrested for refusing to give up her seat on a bus to a white passenger, sparking the year-long Montgomery Bus Boycott
October 1956 Lorraine Hansberry is able to quit her part-time work and focus on writing after the songwriting success of her husband and his college friend Burt D'Lugoff. "Cindy, Oh Cindy," written using pseudonyms, is released by Vince Martin and the Tarriers and Eddie Fisher
1957 Lorraine Hansberry and Robert Nemiroff secretly separate
January 10, 1957 Martin Luther King, Jr., Charles K. Steele and Fred L. Shuttlesworth form the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC), an organization dedicated to nonviolent resistance and founded to coordinate the actions of protest groups throughout the South
Fall 1957 Lorraine Hansberry holds a dinner party with Phil Rose and Burt D'Lugoff to read her first draft of the play that became A Raisin in the Sun. Phil Rose wants to produce it and options the play for $500. Rose gets his friend Sidney Poitier to sign onto Hansberry's play, and Poitier, in turn, recommends Lloyd Richards as its director
September 1957 The first issue of The Ladder is published by the Daughters of Bilitis
September 4, 1957 Nine Black students integrate Little Rock High School
September 9, 1957 President Eisenhower signs Civil Rights Act of 1957 into law
March 1958 Lorraine Hansberry writes a short story called "The Budget" for ONE Magazine under the pseudonym Emily Jones
September 1958 Lorraine Hansberry writes a short story called "Chanson du Konallis" for The Ladder under the pseudonym Emily Jones
Fall 1958 Nearly 1,000 Black actors show up for auditions for A Raisin in the Sun
December 1958 Lorraine Hansberry writes two short stories – "The Anticipation of Eve" and "Renascence" – for ONE Magazine under the pseudonym Emily Jones
January 21, 1959 A Raisin in the Sun has its first public performance at the Shubert Theater in New Haven, Connecticut as part of a four-night tryout
January 26, 1959 A Raisin in the Sun begins a two-week tryout run at the Walnut Theatre in Philadelphia, PA. Writer James Baldwin attends a performance, later writing about witnessing theater history. The FBI sends an agent to assess the play for Communist influences
February 10, 1959 A Raisin in the Sun its final tryout, a four-week run at the Blackstone Theater in Chicago, IL
February 1959 Sidney Poitier is nominated for an Academy Award for Best Actor for his role in The Defiant Ones
March 1, 1959 Lorraine Hansberry gives the keynote speech titled "The Negro Writer and His Roots" at the American Society of African Culture (AMSAC) Negro Writers Conference at the Henry Hudson Hotel in New York
March 11, 1959 Lorraine Hansberry's A Raisin in the Sun premieres on Broadway at the Ethel Barrymore Theater
April 7, 1959 Lorraine Hansberry wins the New York Drama Critics Circle Award for her play A Raisin in the Sun
April 9, 1959 David Attie photographs Lorraine Hansberry in her Bleecker Street apartment for Vogue
April 26, 1959 Lorraine Hansberry and Lloyd Richards are among the guests at a roundtable discussion on the state of Broadway on David Susskind's Open End television show
May 3, 1959 Lorraine Hansberry's television appearance on the public affairs program Look Up and Live is broadcast
May 8, 1959 Mike Wallace interviews Lorraine Hansberry, but the interview never airs
May 12, 1959 Lorraine Hansberry is interviewed by Studs Terkel for his radio show in Chicago
May 12, 1959 Lorraine Hansberry gives a lecture about American drama at Roosevelt University in Chicago for the school's Women's Scholarship Association
May 26, 1959 Lorraine Hansberry and film director Otto Preminger appear on At Random, Irv Kupcinet's local weekly television conversation on Chicago's WBBM. The conversation becomes heated as Hansberry describes Preminger's film Porgy and Bess as “bad art” for its depiction of racial stereotypes
Spring 1959 Random House publishes A Raisin in the Sun
August 1959 Lorraine completes her teleplay The Drinking Gourd, for an NBC series commemorating the centennial of the Civil War. The series is cancelled before production begins due to lack of interest from funders
August 1959 Lorraine Hansberry completes the screenplay for A Raisin in the Sun
August 2, 1959 Ossie Davis replaces Sidney Poitier as Walter Lee Younger in A Raisin in the Sun. Poitier starred in 198 performances
October 19, 1959 A Raisin in the Sun moves to the Belasco Theater
1960 Lorraine Hansberry uses money from the success of A Raisin in the Sun to purchase a home at 112 Waverly Place in Greenwich Village, where Burt D'Lugoff and Hansberry's on-again off-again partner Dorothy Secules live
February 1, 1960 Black students (The Greensboro Four) hold sit-ins at Woolworth Store lunch counter in Greensboro, North Carolina
February 12, 1960 Former Freedom editor Louis E. Burnham dies at age 45 of a heart attack
March 25, 1960 Lorraine Hansberry appears on the The Mitch Miller Show on WCBS radio
April 15, 1960 Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) is founded at Shaw University to provide young African Americans a place within the Civil Rights Movement
June 25, 1960 A Raisin in the Sun ends its Broadway run after 530 performances
November 8, 1960 John F. Kennedy is elected president
May 1961 The film version of A Raisin in the Sun premieres at the Cannes Film Festival and wins the Gary Cooper Award for Human Values
May 4, 1961 The Freedom Rides begin in order to test the new laws that prohibit segregation in interstate travel
May 21, 1961 Lorraine Hansberry and Lloyd Richards discuss their work, and a scene of Hansberry's work-in-progress, Toussaint is performed on Playwright at Work, a television series hosted by Frank Perry
May 29, 1961 The film version of A Raisin in the Sun is released by Columbia Pictures in the U.S.
June 7, 1961 Lorraine Hansberry is interviewed by Eleanor Fisher for the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC)
August 4, 1961 An interview of Lorraine Hansberry by Patricia Marx is broadcast on WNYC
August 9, 1962 Lorraine Hansberry moves to Croton-on-Hudson, NY
October 24, 1962 Lorraine Hansberry speaks at an anti-HUAC rally, delivering her "My Government is Wrong" speech
January 14, 1963 Alabama Governor George Wallace delivers his inaugural address in which he says, "Segregation now, segregation tomorrow, and segregation forever"
April 9, 1963 Lorraine Hansberry has an attack and collapses in pain. She is subsequently hospitalized for 10 days, during which time doctors diagnose her with cancer. Hansberry is told she has anemia and bleeding ulcers
April 12, 1963 Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. is arrested and jailed in Birmingham and begins writing "Letters from a Birmingham Jail"
May 3, 1963 Birmingham authorities use dogs and high-pressure fire hoses to repel demonstrators, many of whom were school-aged children taking part in the Children's Crusade. The Children's Crusade was a campaign, organized by the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC), to use young people trained in nonviolent tactics to bring about the end of segregation in Birmingham. These children were also arrested by the hundreds between May 2 and 10
May 11, 1963 A.G. Gaston Motel, where Martin Luther King and Rev. Ralph Abernathy were staying, and King's brother's home in Birmingham are bombed, sparking a riot
May 24, 1963 A meeting between Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy and a handful of civil rights activists, entertainers and artists, including Lorraine Hansberry, to discuss racial tensions is held at the Kennedy’s Manhattan apartment
May 28, 1963 Under the direction of Medgar Evers, Pearlena Lewis, Memphis Norman, and others sit-in at Woolworth's lunch counter in Jackson, Mississippi and face violent backlash
June 1963 Lorraine Hansberry, Nina Simone and several other influential people attend a press conference at the home of actor and activist Theodore Bikel in order to publicize the upcoming Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) benefit concert at Carnegie Hall
June 11, 1963 Alabama Governor George Wallace personally attempts to block Vivian Malone and James A. Hood from integrating the University of Alabama. In an address, President John F. Kennedy calls civil rights a "moral issue"
June 12, 1963 Medgar Evers, NAACP field secretary for Mississippi, is assassinated in his driveway hours after President Kennedy's address
June 16, 1963 Lorraine Hansberry chairs a fundraiser in Croton-on-Hudson to raise money for civil rights organizations' work in the south. The event raises $5,000, some of which goes towards purchasing the Ford station wagon driven by Andrew Goodman, Michael Schwerner and James Chaney the following summer
June 21, 1963 Lorraine Hansberry and a group of celebrities sponsor a benefit concert for Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), starring Mahalia Jackson and the Freedom Singers at Carnegie Hall
June 24, 1963 Lorraine Hansberry has an unsuccessful operation in New York
August 2, 1963 Lorraine Hansberry undergoes surgery at the Lahey Clinic at New England Baptist Hospital in Boston, Massachusetts
August 27, 1963 W.E.B. DuBois dies in Ghana
August 28, 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom brings over 200,000 to Washington, DC. The event is best known for King's "I Have a Dream Speech.". Lorraine Hansberry is unable to attend as she is recovering from surgery at her home in Croton-on-Hudson
September 15, 1963 Four young girls are killed in the bombing of the 16th Street Baptist Church by KKK members
November 22, 1963 President John F. Kennedy is assassinated. Vice President Lyndon B. Johnson sworn in later that day
1964 The Movement: Documentary of a Struggle for Equality, a fundraising book for the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), comprised of photos with commentary by Lorraine Hansberry, is published by Simon & Schuster
March 10, 1964 Robert Nemiroff obtains a divorce from Lorraine Hansberry in Mexico
April 13, 1964 Sidney Poitier becomes the first Black person to win an Oscar for best actor for his role in Lilies of the Field
Summer 1964 Freedom Summer, a voter registration campaign in Mississippi, launches with hundreds of volunteers from across the country
May 1, 1964 Lorraine Hansberry, released from the hospital for the afternoon, delivers what becomes known as the "To Be Young, Gifted, and Black" speech to winners of a writing contest sponsored by the United Negro College Fund
June 15, 1964 Lorraine Hansberry leaves her sickbed to argue for a militant commitment to Black causes as a participant in "The Black Revolution and the White Backlash," a Town Hall debate between Black artists and white liberals. The event is sponsored by the Association of Artists for Freedom, of which Lorraine is a member
June 21, 1964 Freedom Summer civil rights workers Andrew Goodman, James Chaney and Michael Schwerner go missing in Mississippi. The three are last seen in the Ford station wagon purchased with proceeds from Hansberry's fundraiser
June 23, 1964 The Ford station wagon, purchased with proceeds from Lorraine Hansberry's fundraiser and driven by Andrew Goodman, James Chaney and Michael Schwerner, is discovered, burned, in a swampy area near Philadelphia, Mississippi
July 2, 1964 President Lyndon B. Johnson signs into law the Civil Rights Act of 1964
August 4, 1964 The bodies of Andrew Goodman, James Chaney and Michael Schwerner are discovered by federal investigators in an earthen dam near Philadelphia, Mississippi
September 28, 1964 Lorraine Lorraine Hansberry names Robert Nemiroff literary executor of her will
October 1964 Lorraine Hansberry moves to the Hotel Victoria on Seventh Avenue to be near rehearsals of her second Broadway play, The Sign in Sidney Brustein's Window
OCtober 15, 1964 The Sign in Sidney Brustein's Window opens at the Longacre Theatre, co-produced by Robert Nemiroff and Burt D'Lugoff and directed by Peter Kass. Lorraine Hansberry attends opening night
October 20, 1964 Lorraine Hansberry loses her sight, has convulsions and lapses into a coma as her brain is affected by the cancer. Two days later she regains sight and some movement
October 21, 1964 Newspapers in New York and Chicago publish that Lorraine Hansberry is critically ill
November 1964 Prompted by Robert Nemiroff, Mel Brooks and wife Anne Bancroft open up their home for a midnight strategy meeting to keep The Sign in Sidney Brustein's Window, which was struggling at the box office, open. The unusual celebrity campaign makes the play the longest-running show of that season
December 22, 1964 The Sign in Sidney Brustein's Window moves from the Longacre Theatre to the Henry Miller Theatre
January 12, 1965 Lorraine Hansberry dies of cancer of the duodenum at the age of 34 at University Hospital. The Sign in Sidney Brustein's Window closes
January 15, 1965 Lorraine Hansberry's memorial service is held at the Church of the Master in Harlem. Over 600 people attend despite a huge blizzard, including Malcolm X, Ossie Davis, Diana Sands and Sammy Davis, Jr. Ruby Dee and Shelley Winters speak. Paul Robeson delivers the eulogy. Nina Simone performs. And a telegram from Martin Luther King, Jr. is read. James Baldwin, although not able to attend, sends his condolences to Robert Nemiroff and the Hansberry family, saying, "I think we must resolve not to fail her, for she certainly did not fail us." Lorraine Hansberry is buried in Croton-on-Hudson at Bethel Cemetery
February 21, 1965 Malcolm X is assassinated
August 6, 1965 President Lyndon B. Johnson signs the Voting Rights Act
January 2, 1969 To Be Young, Gifted and Black, a play about the life of Lorraine Hansberry using her own words, compiled by Robert Nemiroff, is first performed off-Broadway at the Cherry Lane Theatre
April 4, 1968 Martin Luther King, Jr. is assassinated
June 22, 1969 Nina Simone performs "To Be Young, Gifted and Black" for the first time at a Morgan State College jazz festival. The song is inspired by Lorraine Hansberry's words
November 15, 1970 Les Blancs, an unfinished play by Lorraine Hansberry about colonialism set in Africa and edited by Robert Nemiroff, opens at Broadway's Longacre Theatre. It runs for one month and has 40 performances
1972 Robert Nemiroff edits and publishes Les Blancs
1972 Robert Nemiroff edits and publishes To Be Young, Gifted and Black
1976 Lorraine is publicly identified as a queer signifier when Barbara Grier, former editor of the lesbian periodical The Ladder, names her as the author of two 1957 letters to the publication
January 23, 1976 Paul Robeson dies of a stroke
December 1, 1987 James Baldwin dies of cancer
1989 PBS premieres A Raisin in the Sun, directed by Bill Duke and produced by Chiz Schultz for American Playhouse. Danny Glover and Esther Rolle star in the television film
1991 Robert Nemiroff dies of cancer
April 26, 2004 A revival of A Raisin in the Sun, directed by Kenny Leon, opens on Broadway at the Royale Theatre. Sean "P. Diddy" Combs, Phylicia Rashad, Audra McDonald and Sanaa Lathan star. The cast reprise their roles for the 2008 ABC television movie
April 3, 2014 A revival of A Raisin in the Sun, directed by Kenny Leon, opens at the Ethel Barrymore Theatre for the play's 50th anniversary. Denzel Washington, LaTanya Richardson Jackson, Sophie Okonedo and Anika Noni Rose star