Bedford/St. Martin's virtuaLit Interactive Drama Tutorial Notebook VIEW SEND
Drama in Depth Approaches and Contexts
Select a PlayElements of DramaCultural ContextsCritical Approaches

"A Raisin in the Sun"
Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness in the Time of A Raisin in the Sun
Housing and Racial Discrimination in the Time of A Raisin in the Sun
New York Times Article on Martin Luther King Jr.’s March Through Cicero, Illinois

In 1966, seven years after A Raisin in the Sun opened on Broadway, Martin Luther King Jr. marched in Chicago and its surrounding suburbs to protest the exclusion of minorities from various housing communities. The following New York Times article describes the volatile situation the civil rights marchers faced.

Martin Luther King Jr.’s March Through Cicero, Illinois

Chicago, Aug. 24: Troops of the Illinois National Guard will be on hand to assist the police in preventing clashes over the weekend when the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. expands his drive against housing bias in Northern cities into the explosive, all-white Chicago suburb of Cicero.
The unusual decision to call up the Guard as a preventive measure was announced today by Gov. Otto G. Kerner after a meeting with officials of Cook County and the town of Cicero.
Dr. King’s open housing marchers have been pelted with bricks, bottles and firecrackers by jeering white youths in recent demonstrations, despite the deployment of nearly half of the city’s 10,000-man police force for their protection.
Dr. King has rejected all pleas by local officials to call off the march.
“We are not only going to walk in Cicero, we are going to work there and live there,” the civil rights leader has told his followers.
A spokesman for the Cicero Manufacturers Association disputed Dr. King’s allegation that Negroes could not work in Cicero and said that there were 11,000 Negroes among Cicero’s 52,000 factory and shop workers.
No one, however, disputed Dr. King’s statement that there were no Negroes among Cicero’s 70,000 residents.
In 1951, Gov. Adlai E. Stevenson sent 3,000 Guardsmen to control white rioters when a Negro family tried to move into Cicero, a stronghold of central, southern and eastern European ethnic groups. The Negro family was driven away and none has tried to move in since.

Source: New York Times, August 25, 1966, 24.

Answer the following questions in your notebook—this will be collated so that you can print or e–mail your work when you are finished.

1. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. tried to change the housing bias in Cicero with a nonviolent march of protest. Which of the adult Youngers might have joined in such a march? Which do you think would not have? Why?

2. Karl Lindner, the man who tries to prevent the Youngers from moving to Clybourne Park, is described as a “gentle man; thoughtful and somewhat labored in his manner.” He is not meant to come across as violent or physically threatening. Does this characterization of Lindner make the message of A Raising in the Sun stronger or weaker? Why?

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