Little known fact: Just a few dozen yards from the Croton Free Library lies the grave of activist, playwright, public intellectual and artist, Lorraine Hansberry. Who knew? Well, now our entire Croton community knows that Lorraine Hansberry lived here in Croton. To celebrate her life, the 2019 Croton Reads program – our sixth annual installment – was an extravaganza of not one but five events. Screenings of Tracy Heather Strain’s bio-documentary, “Sighted Eyes/Feeling Heart” and the original 1961 film A Raisin in the Sun and its 2008 remake based on Hansberry’s 1959 New York Drama Critic’s Circle Award-winning play of the same name launched the festivities in February 2019.
March 2019 brought an appearance by the author of our “One Village, One Book” selection, the biography LOOKING FOR LORRAINE: The Radiant and Radical Life of Lorraine Hansberry written by Imani Perry, whose gracious and intelligent discussion engaged an audience of over 50 participants. The event series culminated in another sizable crowd gathering for a special appearance by Joi Gresham, Hansberry’s Literary Trustee and former Croton resident, who spoke on Hansberry’s living legacy and how her writings, visual art and civil rights activism continues to influence our culture. What a unique opportunity it was to share the life of one of Croton’s own residents with those who may have known her, with those who may have never before heard of her accomplishments, and with a new generation of students in our schools who each year read and study A Raisin in the Sun.