Visitors to Times Square this weekend are encouraged To sit down.
That’s the title of a new art installation honoring the late American playwright and civil rights leader Lorraine Hansberry, whose seated bronze statue is surrounded by five empty bronze chairs — an invitation for members of the public to sit with her and reflect.
Of “A raisin in the sun” in 1959, Hansberry became the first black female playwright to see her work performed on Broadway. She remains in select company more than 60 years later. The work of black playwrights accounts for only 10% of professional productions.
An effort titled The Lorraine Hansberry Initiative aims to keep Hansberry’s legacy alive, including with a scholarship fund that promotes female and non-binary playwrights.
Hansberry was also known for her advocacy of civil rights, fair housing and economic equality. She was the daughter of Carl Augustus Hansberry, who in the landmark 1940 Supreme Court case challenged the racially restrictive agreements that prevented blacks from buying or leasing real estate in a Chicago neighborhood. Hansberry vs. lee.
She died in New York at age 34.
Artist Alison Saar’s installation will stop at the Schomburg Center from Monday through June 18; and Brooklyn Bridge Park, June 23 to June 29; and continue on a nationwide tour that ends in Chicago, the setting of “A raisin in the sun” and Hansberry’s birthplace, where it will be installed permanently in 2023.
Related: The Museum of the City of New York presents a panel discussion Monday, The playwright as activist, as part of the Freedom Week programming. It features a conversation between playwrights Lynn Nottage, Lisa Kron and Erika Dickerson-Despenza.