A Rasin in the Sun Published

On March 11, 1959, A Raisin in the Sun by Lorraine Hansberry was published and premiered on Broadway.

A Raisin in the Sun tells the story of an African American family’s experience living in South Chicago. After the death of their father, they attempt to improve their life by using an insurance payout. Throughout the book, the family deals with issues of racism, housing discrimination, and assimilation.

In 1959, A Raisin in the Sun was considered to be a risky investment. All of the characters in the play, except one, are black. Premiering in a country in the midst of a Civil Rights Movement was risky but worth it to those that partook.

While premiering on Broadway, the character of Walter was played by an up-and-comer named Sidney Poitier. The play premiered at the Ethel Barrymore Theater and was directed by Lloyd Richards.

A Raisin in the Sun was the first play written by a black woman to be produced on Broadway. It was also the first Broadway play with a black director. The New York Times later reported that the play “changed American theater forever.”[1]


[1] Frank Rich, “Theater: ‘Raisin in Sun,’ Anniversary in Chicago”, The New York Times, October 5, 1983.

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