In celebration of Black History Month, we’ll be highlighting a diverse range of books, all written by Black American authors, all of which celebrate and prioritize the 2024 theme, “African Americans and the Arts”. We will be exploring the key influence African Americans have had in the fields of “visual and performing arts, literature, fashion, folklore, language, film, music, architecture, culinary and other forms of cultural expression.” We’ll be featuring a title every day through the month of February.

The Association for the Study of African American Life and History discusses this years theme stating, “African American art is infused with African, Caribbean, and the Black American lived experiences. In the fields of visual and performing arts, literature, fashion, folklore, language, film, music, architecture, culinary and other forms of cultural expression, the African American influence has been paramount. African American artists have used art to preserve history and community memory as well as for empowerment. Artistic and cultural movements such as the New Negro, Black Arts, Black Renaissance, hip-hop, and Afrofuturism, have been led by people of African descent and set the standard for popular trends around the world. In 2024, we examine the varied history and life of African American arts and artisans.”

Todays work is Lorraine Hansberry’s A Raisin In the Sun: The Sign In Sidney Brustein’s Window. By the time of her death, at the tragically young age of thirty-four, Lorraine Hansberry had created two milestones of the American theater. With A Raisin in the Sun, Hansberry gave this country its most movingly authentic portrayal of black family life in the inner city. Barely five years later, with The Sign in Sidney Brustein’s Window, Hansberry gave us an unforgettable portrait of a man struggling with his individual fate in an age of racial and social injustice.

“Never before, in the entire history of the American theater, has so much of the truth of Black people’s lives been seen on the stage,” observed James Baldwin shortly before A Raisin in the Sun opened on Broadway in 1959. The play’s title comes from a line in Langston Hughes’s poem “Harlem,” which warns that a dream deferred might “dry up/like a raisin in the sun.”

From John Blaine’s Foreword to The Sign in Sidney Brustein’s Window: “It is drama of such clarity that one may return to it again and again, and, I expect, emerge as deeply moved; and each time the more illumined…. Miss Hansberry, I am convinced, doesn’t know how to create a character who isn’t gloriously diverse, illuminatingly contradictory, heart-breakingly alive…. [A] personal odyssey of discovery, a confrontation with others in the process of which [Brustein] discovers himself.”

Stay tuned for a new book tomorrow!