Lorraine HansberryLorraine Hansberry was a trailblazing playwright, author and activist who used her personal experiences of segregation in Chicago to create the revolutionary play, “A Raisin in the Sun.”

Born in Chicago on May 19, 1930, Hansberry and her family faced pressure from growing racial tensions which triggered the Hansberry v. Lee Supreme Court decision, ruling restrictive covenants illegal.

As a young woman, Hansberry persevered and attended the New School for Social Research in New York, where she studied and worked as an editor of a progressive newspaper, Freedom. Her dedication to providing a voice for the voiceless shined through as she wrote about feminism and homophobia in America.

Hansberry used a line from a Langston Hughes poem and the story of a struggling African-American family to create the groundbreaking play “A Raisin in the Sun.”

The landmark 1959 theatrical production made her the first black woman to see her play performed on Broadway. Hansberry became the youngest American and first African-American playwright to win a New York Critics’ Circle award and a 1961 film adaptation starring Sydney Poitier.  

Off Broadway, Hansberry became active in the civil rights movement alongside her friend, Nina Simone. “A Raisin in the Sun” has been adapted numerous times over the years and remains a landmark of American literature and theatre.

Did You Know? Today is National Drink Wine DayWhether you are a seasoned wine connoisseur or have just discovered your favorite variety, today is your day. Wine drinkers across the country are celebrating National Drink Wine Day, a day to enjoy a glass of your favorite Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon or Malbec. 

Looking to visit an Illinois winery in the Spring? Illinois is home to approximately 100 wineries, from Galena Cellars in Northwestern Illinois to Blue Sky Vineyard in Makanda. 

Read more:
Raise your glass! It’s National Drink Wine Day (USA Today)

Did You Know? Earth, Wind & Fire founder Maurice White had ties to IllinoisMaurice White, founder and former leader of Earth, Wind & Fire, traveled to Chicago in the 1960s to study at the Chicago Conservatory of Music. While working under the legendary Chess Records label, he had the opportunity to play with Etta James, Fontella Bass and Ramsey Lewis.

White joined the Ramsey Lewis Trio and traveled the country, returning to Chicago after three years and forming the Salty Peppers group with friends Wade Flemons and Don Whitehead. The group composed several songs, including “La La Time,” and starred in commercials that aired in Chicagoland.

White, Flemons and Whitehead relocated to California after a few years and changed the name of their group to Earth, Wind & Fire.

The rest, as they say, is history.

Learn more:
Read more about the life and accomplishments of Maurice White and Earth, Wind & Fire
Watch Stevie Wonder’s Emotional Maurice White Tribute at Grammys (Rolling Stone)

WhiteHouse SMAbraham Lincoln, one of the most recognizable Presidents in U.S. history, migrated to Illinois with his family in his early twenties, living several places before settling in New Salem. Lincoln was elected to the Illinois state legislature in 1834 and moved to Springfield a short time later to begin practicing law.

Ulysses S. Grant, America’s 18th President, served after President Johnson during Reconstruction after the Civil War. A well-known Union Army hero, Grant was living in Galena when the war broke out, leaving to command the Union army.

Ronald Reagan was the only president born in Illinois. Reagan was raised in Dixon and attended Eureka College before leaving Illinois. Reagan spent most of his adult life in California, however, and considered that state home.

President Obama moved to Chicago in his mid-twenties, working as a community organizer on the South Side before entering law school in 1988. Obama taught law at the University of Chicago and was elected to the Illinois Senate in 1996. The rest, as they say, is history.

Learn more:

Abraham Lincoln’s Biography


Ulysses S. Grant Biography


Ronald Reagan Biography


President Obama


Obama dykIllinois is considered the home state to the 44th President of the United States. President Barack Obama was elected to the Illinois Senate in 1996. He succeeded State Senator Alice Palmer as senator from Illinois’ 13th District.

Obama represented a number of Chicago South Side neighborhoods. At the time, the 13th District spanned from Hyde Park-Kenwood south to South Shore and west to Chicago Lawn. He represented this area until 2004.

Obama went on to serve as U.S. Senator from Illinois beginning in 2005. He resigned from his U.S. Senate seat after being elected President of the United States in 2008.

Today, the President returned to the place his legislative career began: Springfield, Illinois. Nine years ago, he announced his candidacy for President of the United States in front of the Old State Capitol. The announcement was made at the same place Abraham Lincoln delivered his historic “House Divided” speech in 1858.