NYU Washington, DC, the NYU Brademas Center, and the March on Washington Film Festival hosted a screening of Lorraine Hansberry: Sighted Eyes/Feeling Heart. With the stroke of her pen, Lorraine Hansberry changed the face of American theater as the first-ever Black woman to author a play performed on Broadway. Hansberry used theater as her medium for activism at a critical time in the Civil Rights Movement. An outspoken trailblazer until her untimely death at the age of 33, she remains an iconoclast of American arts and letters.
Hansberry Literary Trust's CEO Joi Gresham lead the discussion after the screening and Atilah Kadijah Manyansa with drummer King Salim Ajanku lead the incantation ceremony.
Joi Gresham is the Director and a Trustee of the Lorraine Hansberry Literary Trust. In this capacity she oversees and licenses the works of the author-activist. In addition, she serves as Co-Trustee on The Lorraine Hansberry Properties Trust that manages Hansberry’s intellectual properties and Co-Trustee to The Jewell Handy Gresham-Nemiroff Trust, which owns and licenses the copyrights to Hansberry’s works and the works of Robert Nemiroff.
In the United States and abroad, Ms. Gresham is a consulting producer to multi-media productions and editions of Hansberry works. In 2009, she was a consulting producer and collaborated with director Lou Bellamy for the LA Theatreworks AUDIE-winning audio production of A Raisin in the Sun. In 2014, Hansberry’s The Sign in Sidney Brustein’s Window will be presented in a 50th anniversary revival production at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival. This represents a collaboration where Ms. Gresham consulted with OSF in restoring Hansberry’s 1964 original Broadway acting edition for this production. Ms. Gresham is also currently an Associate Producer of the 2014 Broadway revival of A Raisin in the Sun starring Denzel Washington.
Ms. Gresham serves as consultant on literary and biographical treatments of Hansberry and her works, and has authored forewords to her plays. Ms. Gresham maintains a special interest in opportunities to work with and serve as a resource for writers and artists involved in in-depth study of Hansberry through the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture. With an over thirty-year background in arts education, cultural studies, and teacher training, she enjoys educational exchanges with teachers and students alike and travels extensively to speak to audiences.
The March on Washington Film Festival was founded as a civil rights legacy project. The Festival creates a national platform that brings together history, scholarship, and the arts to tell a more accurate story about the pivotal events and heroes, known and unknown, of the Civil Rights Movement. By linking those events to today’s social justice movements and lifting up the testimonies of the foot soldiers who were there, the Festival inspires a renewed passion for activism and ultimately seeks to change the way the Civil Rights Era is taught and understood.