The Lillys Unveiling of Lorraine Hansberry Statue

The statue is part of the The Lilly Awards Foundation’s Lorraine Hansberry Initiative, honoring the late playwright.

Maquette of Alison Saar's sculpture titled To Sit Awhile
Maquette of Alison Saar's sculpture titled To Sit Awhile. Photo by Joey Stocks.

The Lilly Awards Foundation plans to display sculptor Alison Saar’s To Sit A While, depicting playwright and DG Council member Lorraine Hansberry, June 9-12 in Times Square (by the TKTS steps at Broadway and 47th Street), followed by two other New York City installations: The Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture (June 13–18) and Brooklyn Bridge Park (June 23-29). 

The figure of Hansberry is surrounded by five bronze chairs, each representing a different aspect of her life and work. The life-size chairs are an invitation to the public to do just that: sit with her and think. 

The June 9 unveiling will feature the statue’s sculptor Alison Saar, as well as Mamie Hansberry, Nantille Hansberry, Taye Hansberry, Lynn Nottage, LaChanze, The Lillys, and more.

The statue, which will tour the country in 2022-2023 to raise awareness of the full breadth of Hansberry’s work and teachings, is part of The Lillys Lorraine Hansberry Initiative, which includes a scholarship to make sure the next generation is able to follow in Hansberry’s footsteps, regardless of race, gender, or economic situation.

“We know that graduate school is the primary gateway to a career as a dramatic writer,” added Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Nottage. “In my twenty years of teaching at the graduate level, I have had only four Black female students. If we want theatre to tell the full story of humanity, we need to nurture the full breadth of talent.”

The grant is primarily intended to cover the living expenses of three female and/or non-binary dramatic writers of color entering graduate school, with two additional recipients added each year. Recipients will receive $25,000 for each year of their education, ensuring that they have protected time to write, work with collaborators, and benefit from the guidance of professional mentors in their respective fields. 

Following New York City, the statue will subsequently tour major U.S. cities—including Philadelphia, Detroit, Minneapolis, Washington, D.C., Atlanta, Seattle, San Francisco, Los Angeles, and Chicago (Hansberry’s birthplace will enjoy an enhanced and permanent installation in 2023)—and historically Black colleges and universities. In each city, the Initiative will work with local theatres and social justice organizations to showcase the work of contemporary writers of color concurrent with the sculpture’s placement.

Show your support by visiting the Lorraine Hansberry Initiative website to make a donation.