As executor of Hansberry’s literary estate, Nemiroff extended her work’s influence. He collected and adapted unfinished pieces, letters, and diary entries into a play, To Be Young, Gifted, and Black. Produced in 1968, it became the longest-running off-Broadway play of that season, and was later published as a book entitled To Be Young, Gifted, and Black: Lorraine Hansberry in Her Own Words. He also finished Les Blancs and published it with the plays The Drinking Gourd and What Use Are Flowers? Hansberry is celebrated for giving realistic dramatic voice to African American characters and concerns. The Lorraine Hansberry Theatre was incorporated in San Francisco in 1981.
Also in 1964, Hansberry and Nemiroff divorced, though they remained close. He helped produce The Sign in Sidney Brustein’s Window—the only other completed work produced in Hansberry’s lifetime—which opened at Broadway’s Longacre Theater to mixed reviews. The play concerns a liberal intellectual’s experiences with politics and activism; it closed January 12, 1965, the day Hansberry died of pancreatic cancer at age 34. Her early death was mourned in many circles, and more than 600 people attended her funeral where tributes from government, arts, and civil rights leaders accompanied Robeson’s eulogy.
Lorraine Hansberry wrote the classic play A Raisin in the Sun
1930-1965 Playwright Lorraine Hansberry’s A Raisin in the Sun was the first drama by an African American woman to be produced on Broadway. Widely acclaimed, it helped pave the way for other black playwrights. She completed only two plays in her short life, but left unfinished works that published posthumously, extended her contribution to literature, theater, and the Civil Rights Movement.