0 comments on “#BlackHistoryMonth Treat: How Playwright Lorraine Hansberry Inspired My Novel, Love’s Troubadours”

#BlackHistoryMonth Treat: How Playwright Lorraine Hansberry Inspired My Novel, Love’s Troubadours

LT-ALandLorraineHansberry

My debut novel, Love’s Troubadours was inspired by a speech given by activist and playwright Lorraine Hansberry in February 1964. She spoke to a Harlem-based group of aspiring young, gifted, and African American writers about the power to love in America. In her remarks, Hansberry stated,

“O, the things that we have learned in this unkind house that we have to tell the world about! Despair? Did someone say despair was a question in the world? Well then, listen to the sons of those who have known little else. If you wish to know the resiliency of this thing you would so quickly resign to mythhood, this thing called the human spirit … Life? Ask those who have tasted of it in pieces rationed out by enemies. Love? Ah, ask the troubadours who have come from those who have loved when all reason pointed to the uselessness and foolhardiness of love. Perhaps we shall be the teachers when it is done. Out of the depths of pain we have thought to be our sole heritage in this world-O, we know about love!”

She referred to African Americans as troubadours, the descendents of people who used the power of love to live through and overcome despair and insurmountable odds. She went on to urge the audience to seek wisdom from African Americans because of their capacity to love.

I first read about Hansberry’s speech in Salvation by bell hooks in 2001. Salvation discusses how African Americans have used the power of love to transform their lives and communities. hooks’ writings caused me to question how I could use my gifts as an artist and writer to promote love as a healing tool in the lives of individuals and communities in America. I answered that question by writing Love’s Troubadours, a novel that tells the story of Karma Francois, a 30-something museum curator and yoga teacher who loses her job, discovers family secrets after a loved one dies, and begins a healing journey as she relocates from New York City to Washington, DC. Learn more about her in the video below.

Karma learns many life lessons as she comes face-to-face with the choices she has made in her life and relationships. Watch the video below and learn about some of them.

Throughout her journey, she uses journaling, meditation, mindfulness, poetry, spirituality, therapy, and yoga to heal and love herself. Hansberry’s wisdom on mindful living inspired the way I wrote about Karma’s healing journey:

 “I wish to live because life has within it that which is good, that which is beautiful, and that which is love. Therefore, since I have known all of these things, I have found them to be reason enough and–I wish to live. Moreover, because this is so, I wish others to live for generations and generations and generations and generations.”

Watch the video below and learn how Karma’s healing journey transformed her idea of love in her life.

After reading Hansberry’s book, To Be Young, Gifted and Black, I made a conscious decision to use my novel’s characters to celebrate the beauty and diversity of people of African descent. Watch the video below and learn about the diverse characters.

 

Listen to a chapter excerpt from Love’s Troubadours that illustrates the diversity of African Americans when Karma walks into Mocha Hut, a coffee and tea café in her U Street neighborhood, and eavesdrops on a conversation.

 

0 comments on “Happy Creativity Thursday – Honoring The Creative Legacy of Lorraine Hansberry”

Happy Creativity Thursday – Honoring The Creative Legacy of Lorraine Hansberry

Lorraine Hansberry - Photo Credit: Associated Press -
Lorraine Hansberry – Photo Credit: Associated Press –

Happy Creativity Thursday!

Today, I am thinking about one of my creative sheroes, Lorraine Hansberry, a Chicago born and bred activist, writer, and playwright. Hansberry is best known for her 1959 Broadway play, “A Raisin in the Sun.”

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My first taste of her literary genius occurred while reading her play, “To Be Young, Gifted, and Black.” I adopted her as a creative shero and inspiration for my first novel, Love’s Troubadours – Karma: Book One, after reading bell hooks’ Salvation: Black People and Love which contains many references to Hansberry’s work. Click here to read how she inspired my novel.

Tracy Heather Strain - Photo Credit: www.thefilmposse.com
Tracy Heather Strain – Photo Credit: http://www.thefilmposse.com
Photo Credit: www.vitaminw.co
Photo Credit: http://www.vitaminw.co

Over the years, her words have been medicine for my creative soul:

…life has within it that which is good, that which is beautiful and that which is love. Therefore, since I have known all of these things, I have found them to be reason enough and—I wish to live. Moreover, because this is so, I wish others to live for generations and generations and generations.”

Her wisdom on life has inspired me to live fully. That’s why I was excited to financially support the Lorraine Hansberry Documentary Project fundraiser (ends on July 19)sponsored by Peabody Award-winning documentary filmmaker Tracy Heather Strain and VITAMIN W. Since 2004, Strain has been working to make the Hansberry documentary a reality. Strain’s film will cover Hansberry’s life on the South Side of Chicago in the 1930s, her life in Greenwich Village in the 1950s, and her final days of living with pancreatic cancer in the 1960s. Click here to watch a short video about the project. Please consider supporting the Lorraine Hansberry Documentary Project fundraiser by July 19. Click here to make a donation. Any amount helps. I gave $10.

Photo Credit: www.fem2pt0.com
Photo Credit: http://www.fem2pt0.com

Many thanks to Fem 2.0 for sharing information about the fundraiser on its web site!