Publicity photo of Lorraine Hansberry, 1955. Photo by Joseph Abeles Studio. Courtesy of the Billy Rose Theatre Division, The New York Public Library.
Many New York City public schools are named in honor of prominent figures in American and world history. The NYC LGBT Historic Sites Project compiled a list of the 25 public schools named after gay men, lesbians, and bisexuals, although only one — Harvey Milk High School — intentionally honors an LGBT individual. This list includes Lorraine Hansberry Academy Public School 214, in the Bronx.
African-American playwright and activist Lorraine Hansberry (1930-1965) moved to New York City in 1950. In 1956, she began what would become her best known work: a dramatic play about a Black family in her native, segregated Chicago, called A Raisin in the Sun. Its New York premiere in 1959 made Hansberry the first Black woman to have a play staged on Broadway. Even before the play’s success, she privately identified as a lesbian and wrote letters, under a pseudonym, to The Ladder, the monthly national publication of the Daughters of Bilitis, the nation’s first lesbian organization.