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Lorraine Hansberry’s inspirational words on being young, gifted and black


With her health failing, Lorraine Hansberry left the hospital to speak to the teenage winners of a national writing contest. She described the young writers as “young, gifted and black” – the words that inspired the Nina Simone song of the same name – and urged them to represent their community in their work.

Funding for Sighted Eyes/Feeling Heart is provided by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. Major support is provided by the National Endowment for the Humanities, Ford Foundation/JustFilms, National Endowment for the Arts, LEF Foundation, Peter G. Peterson & Joan Ganz Cooney Fund.


In March, Hansberry's health began declining again, landing her in and out of the hospital for treatments. She worked sporadically on a new set of revisions for Sydney Brustein and spent much of her dwindling energy speaking out about the issues that had always animated her. On May 1st, a few weeks before her 34th birthday, Hansberry left the hospital to speak to the six teenage winners of a national creative writing contest. I wanted to be able to come here and speak with you on this occasion because you are young, gifted and black. In the year 1964 I, for one, can think of no more dynamic combination that a person might be. It is really before people have largely adopted the the designation black and she makes it into something that is powerful and beautiful. Look at the work that awaits you. Write, if you will, but write about the world as it is, and as you think it ought to be and must be. Work hard at it.

Care about it. Write about our people. Tell their story.


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