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Lorraine Hansberry: Sighted Eyes/Feeling Heart

Event organized by KQED

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Please join KQED, San Francisco Public Library, and the Lorraine Hansberry Theatre in a film screening of PBS's American Masters' film 'Lorraine Hansberry: Sighted Eyes/Feeling Heart.'

Saturday, April 14, 2018
1:00 - 3:00pm: Film Screening
3:00 - 4:00pm: Talk with Allia Ida Griffin and Margaret Wilkerson

On March 11, 1959, Lorraine Hansberry’s 'A Raisin in the Sun' opened on Broadway and changed the face of American theater forever. Depicting the limitations of the American dream through the lives of a black family on Chicago’s South Side, the play’s richly drawn characters and unprecedented subject matter attracted record crowds and earned it the coveted top prize from the New York Drama Critics’ Circle. But while the play is universally seen as a groundbreaking work of art, the fascinating story of Hansberry’s life is far less well known.

In the new feature-length documentary, 'Sighted Eyes/Feeling Heart,' award-winning filmmaker Tracy Heather Strain examines Hansberry’s life and work using a remarkable collection of archival footage, home movies, rare photos and unpublished documents.

From growing up in the segregated city of Chicago in the 1930s, to her work as a radical journalist in Harlem in the 1950s — which brought her to the attention of J. Edgar Hoover’s FBI — to the moment when she directly confronted Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy, the film illustrates Hansberry’s unique connection to each of the major social and political movements of her era. The result is a timely and revealing portrait of an activist and artist whose popular recognition has, until now, remained long overdue.

Featuring interviews with Hollywood legends such as Sidney Poitier, Ruby Dee, Harry Belafonte, and Louis Gossett Jr., who share their personal memories collaborating with Hansberry, 'Sighted Eyes' offers an intimate and powerful look at a woman who was, as Poitier says in the film, “reaching into the essence of who we were, who we are, and where we came from.”

The screening is free, but we strongly encourage people to RSVP to ensure a seat.

Allia Ida Griffin earned her Ph.D. in Literature and Cultural Studies from UCSD and currently teaches in the Department of Ethnic Studies at Santa Clara University. Her research and teaching interests include: African American Literature and Performance, Women of Color Feminism, Prison Studies, and Contemporary Iranian American Literature. She has been twice named a Faculty Mentor for Distinguished First-Year Students and is the recipient of the Enhanced Teaching with Technology Grant as well as the Markkula Center Hackworth Grant for Faculty Research in Applied Ethics. Her current book project, The Radius of Loss, navigates the intersection of literature and performance emerging from the African and Middle Eastern diasporas through narratives of captivity, memory, haunting, and nostalgia.

Professor Margaret B. Wilkerson received her Ph.D. in Dramatic Art from UC Berkeley in 1972. In the 1970s and 1980s, she was Director of the UC Berkeley Center for the Study, Education, and Advancement of Women. As Chair of UC Berkeley’s Department of African American Studies from 1988-1994, she led the faculty to establish the Ph.D. Program in African Diaspora Studies. Professor Wilkerson chaired the Department of Theater, Dance, and Performance Studies from 1995-1998, where she led the development of the new interdisciplinary Ph.D. program in Performance Studies. Most recently, she was Director of Media Arts and Culture for the Ford Foundation in New York. She was the 2009 Commencement Speaker for the Department of Theater, Dance, and Performance Studies.