Lorraine Hansberry: (1930 – 1965) Playwright, Author, Civil Rights Activist

Lorraine Vivian Hansberry was born on May 19, 1930 in Chicago Illinois. Her father, Carl Augustus Hansberry, founded Lake Street Bank, one of the first banks for blacks in Chicago. He was also a successful real estate broker.  Her mother, Nannie Louise Hansberry, was a driving school teacher and ward committeewoman. Lorraine was the youngest of four children. In 1938, her father bought a house in the Washington Park Subdivision of the South Side of Chicago which resulted in an upheaval felt by their white neighbors. The white community's legal efforts to force the Hansberry family out landed in U.S. Supreme Court.  The Supreme Court decision in Hansberry v. Lee ruled that since the racially restrictive real property covenant was incontestable because it had already been deemed valid by the courts in the prior lawsuit.  Carl Hansberry died in 1946, when Lorraine was fifteen year old. "American racism helped kill him," she later said.