WBAI To Air Special on Life and Work of Lorraine Hansberry
On Tuesday, February 23, 2016, at 7pm, Out-FM, the LGBT program on noncommercial Pacifica radio station WBAI, 99.5 FM, will present “The Life and Work of Lorraine Hansberry." The two-hour special will include excerpts from "Lorraine Hansberry in Her Own Words," a 1967 radio drama aired on WBAI and Los Angeles Pacifica station KPFK. The drama was the prototype for the play, "Young, Gifted and Black," and helped it gain the attention it needed to get booked on Broadway. In addition, biographer Margaret Wilkerson, Professor Emerita of African American Studies at the University of California/Berkeley, will discuss Hanberry's significance to the debates surrounding the Civil Rights Movement, and an often overlooked part of her life: her lesbianism, her affiliation with the Daughters of Bilitis, an early lesbian rights organization, and her letters to the organization’s magazine. Wilkerson has discovered previously unpublished writings of Hansberry that deal with lesbian topics.
The 1967 drama was a personal and literary biography with performances of parts of Hansberry’s plays, letters, and other writings. “This amazing program wove her politics and her art together in an uplifting way,” said Nancy Kirton, one of the original Out-FM producers (who died in 2014). Sixty-one Broadway and Hollywood stars -- many of them internationally renowned -- took part in the production, which was narrated by actor Ossie Davis and actor-director Harold Scott. Actors range from Ruby Dee to Sidney Poitier, from Betty Davis to Paul Newman. Part of the work was rediscovered last year in the Pacifica Radio Archive and saved for posterity in pristine condition by digitization. The Los Angeles-based Archive contains thousands of hours of broadcasts from the 59-year-old non-profit social justice radio network, including the voices of James Baldwin, Langston Hughes, Malcolm X, and many others. “We’re lucky the Archive was able to save this recording, Kirton said. “The Archive has been diligently working to save these recordings from oblivion by digitizing them, since many will deteriorate if not digitized soon.” The recordings have since been digitally restored as a result of a gift from Lilly Tomlin and Jane Wagner.
Hansberry was a renowned African American playwright best known for her hit Broadway play and later Hollywood movie, “A Raisin in the Sun.” In 1959, at age 28, she was the youngest playwright and first Black person to win the New York Drama Critics’ Circle Award for Best Play of the Year, which propelled her into the media spotlight. Her work reflected the struggles for civil rights and Black liberation in the U.S. at the time.
Hansberry was also known for her later plays “Les Blancs,” “The Sign in Sidney Brustein’s Window,” “The Drinking Gourd,” “The Movement,” and “What Use are Flowers?” According to Out-FM producer John Riley, “Lorraine Hansberry was able to project her strong leftist and feminist views through her work in a non-preachy way, using deep characterization and fascinating plots.”
Hansberry died in 1965 at the age of 35 of cancer. She was born on May 19, 1930, and would have been 85 on the day of the upcoming broadcast.
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(Original airing January 12, 2004 - republished after Leslie Feinberg's recent death.) Face-Off 2, discussion in LGBT African American People of Color on issues discussed in news and communities, but not on a community level. Recorded at Audre Lorde Project. Hosted by Mark Fowler of NY Black Pride. Laurence Pinkney of Black Pride NYC and Cory is a heterosexual man of trans experince founder of EE productions, Cory born in NJ, lives in Brooklyn. The segment was recorded and produced by John Riley.
Jesse Heiwa brings us the voices of Leslie Feinberg and Mini Bruce Pratt from their report back from their trip to Tiawan where Stone Butch Blues was required reading for some high school students. Feinberg and Pratt discuss the importance of the book on the 10th anniversary of its publication and its impact in the US and the rest of the world including Mainland China and Tiawan. Feinberg and Pratt visited with working class lesbians at a LGBT bookstore in Taiwan where the translated book was read aloud for her in Mandarin Chinese. Feinberg begins by framing how and why she wrote the book. Pratt talks about another of Feinberg's speeches, discusses the repressive history of the Taiwanese government, and describes the crackdown on the queer bookstore where the book reading was later held. Files below are: first the whole January 12th 2004 show, and lastly just the segment with Leslie Feinberg and Mini Bruce Pratt. Click on the file you want to listen to stream. Otherwise click on the green download arrow.
Below you can hear Out-FM's coverage of the case with Lawyer Susan Tipograph a week before sentencing in 2007 (in first segment).
June 4, 2007 Out-FM Host: Pedro Angel Serrano
o Lesbian Self Defense or Assault - Interview with Susan Tipograph (co-hosts Donna Redd and John Riley)
o Pedro Commentary
o Silvia Rivera history (Brad Taylor)