We invite you to come hear the story of one of the most gifted and charismatic, yet least understood, Black artists and intellectuals of the twentieth century. Imani Perry will be discussing this as well as her other new book, Vexy Thing: On Gender and Liberation, with her colleague and fellow feminist scholar Reena Goldthree.
Lorraine Hansberry, who died at thirty-four, was by all accounts a force of nature. Although best-known for her work A Raisin in the Sun, her short life was full of extraordinary experiences and achievements, and she had an unflinching commitment to social justice, which brought her under FBI surveillance when she was barely in her twenties. While her close friends and contemporaries, like James Baldwin and Nina Simone, have been rightly celebrated, her story has been diminished and relegated to one work—until now. In 2018, Hansberry will get the recognition she deserves with the PBS American Masters documentary “Lorraine Hansberry: Sighted Eyes/Feeling Heart” and Imani Perry’s multi-dimensional, illuminating biography, Looking for Lorraine.
After the success of A Raisin in the Sun, Hansberry used her prominence in myriad ways: challenging President Kennedy and his brother to take bolder stances on Civil Rights, supporting African anti-colonial leaders, and confronting the romantic racism of the Beat poets and Village hipsters. Though she married a man, she identified as lesbian and, risking censure and the prospect of being outed, joined one of the nation’s first lesbian organizations. Hansberry associated with many activists, writers, and musicians, including Malcolm X, Langston Hughes, Duke Ellington, Paul Robeson, W.E.B. Du Bois, among others. Looking for Lorraine is a powerful insight into Hansberry’s extraordinary life—a life that was tragically cut far too short.
In Vexy Thing Imani Perry resurrects patriarchy as a target of critique, recentering it to contemporary discussions of feminism through a social and literary analysis of cultural artifacts from the Enlightenment to the present.
Imani Perry is Professor of African American Studies at Princeton University. She is the author of the acclaimed More Beautiful and More Terrible: The Embrace and Transcendence of Inequality in the U.S.; of Prophets of the Hood: Politics and Poetics in Hip Hop; May We Forever Stand: A History of the Black National Anthem; and –also just out this fall—of Vexy Thing: On Gender and Liberation. Reena Goldthree is an assistant professor of African American Studies at Princeton University where she specializes in the history of Latin America and the Caribbean. Her research and teaching focus on social movements; political theory; labor and migration; and Caribbean feminisms.
This event is co-sponsored by Princeton University's Department of African American Studies and Humanities Council