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Young, Black and Determined: A Biography of Lorraine Hansberry

by Patricia C. McKissack and Frederick L. McKissack

Published by Holiday House, 1998
152 pages
ISBN: 0-8234-1300-4

Ages 11 - 15

A compelling profile of the playwright and activist who died so young but left a legacy of art and ideas and a passion for life that speaks directly to young and old today. Born in 1930, Lorraine Hansberry lived in highly charged social and political times. Growing up in the black upper class on Chicago's south side where African Americans from all socio-economic classes lived together heightened her sensitivity to issues of race and class in our nation, and her understanding of both the pride and terrible hurt of generations of African Americans. She moved to Harlem at age 20 and joined a thriving African-American intellectual and artistic community that included W.E.B. DuBois, Langston Hughes, James Baldwin, Alice Childress, and others. The McKissacks' biography is a song of praise to the brilliant mind and compassionate heart of Hansberry, who is best known for her groundbreaking play A Raisin in the Sun. It is a song that finds the intricate notes of Hansberry's life and sounds them against the complex melody of the times in which she lived, a melody that Hansberry herself contributed to, and sometimes countered, in plays, articles, and commentaries she wrote, and in the ideas she sounded. Their thorough research includes interviews with individuals who knew Hansberry, who died of cancer at the age of 34 in 1965, and an analysis of the importance of her work, especially A Raisin in the Sun, that is presented as part of the text. This uplifting work takes its cue from Hansberry herself, whose drive and determination to live her own dream and speak the truth is inspirational. CCBC categories: Biography / Autobiography; The Arts.  © Cooperative Children's Book Center

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