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February 14, 2009


Lorraine Hansberry — the first African-American woman to have a play produced on Broadway — was greatly influenced by her realtor father. His landmark suit to overturn restrictive covenants that barred blacks from white neighborhoods in Chicago was successfully argued before the Supreme Court in 1940. Hansberry tried college, and worked for a while for a magazine, but quit to work full time as a playwright. The result was “A Raisin in the Sun,” which opened on Broadway in 1959. The play won the New York Drama Critics’ Circle Award, making Hansberry the youngest American and the first black to receive the prestigious award. Nearly 40 new productions open on Broadway each year, drawing an audience of 12 million people. This special edition of Profile America for Black History Month is a public service of the U.S. Census Bureau.

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