To some readers, Hansberry has appeared more interested in gaining acceptance from the largely white literary establishment than in speaking out unabashedly for the oppressed black minority. Her plays, however, reveal the falsity of this impression: She not only refused to soothe her audience’s guilt over their responsibility for past inequities but also increasingly challenged them to adopt a radical, even an openly revolutionary stance to ending those injustices.
A biographer once wrote of Lillian Hellman, another important American dramatist: “She was, is, a lasting voice, and when all the storms . . . are done, it will still be heard. She has a final place. She is a writer.” These words could serve equally appropriately as Hansberry’s epitaph.