American Masters: Lorraine Hansberry - Sighted Eyes/Feeling Heart

About This Episode

On March 11, 1959, Lorraine Hansberry’s "A Raisin in the Sun" opened on Broadway and changed the face of American theater forever. As the first-ever black woman to author a play performed on Broadway, she did not shy away from richly drawn characters and unprecedented subject matter. The play attracted record crowds and earned the coveted top prize from the New York Drama Critics’ Circle. While the play is seen as a groundbreaking work of art, the timely story of Hansberry’s life is far less known.

Sighted Eyes/Feeling Heart is the first in-depth presentation of Hansberry’s complex life, portraying the writer’s lifetime commitment to fighting injustice and how she found her way to art — the theater — as her medium for activism at a crucial time for black civil rights. The documentary also explores her concealed identity as a lesbian and the themes of sexual orientation and societal norms in her works. The film title comes from Hansberry’s view that “one cannot live with sighted eyes and feeling heart and not know or react to the miseries which afflict this world.”