Lorraine Hansberry's Humanism

I must share with you a part of a conversation I had with a young New York intellectual in my living room in Greenwich Village. "Why," he said to me, "are you so sure the human race should go on? You do not believe in a prior arrangement of life on this planet. You know perfectly well that the reason for survival does not exist in nature!"

I answered him the only way I could: that man is unique in the universe, the only creature who has in fact the power to transform the universe. Therefore, it did not seem unthinkable to me that man might just do what the apes never will—impose the reason for life on life. That is what I said to my friend. I wish to live because life has within it that which is good, that which is beautiful and that which is love. Therefore, since I have known all of these things, I have found them to be reason enough and—I wish to live. Moreover, because this is so, I wish others to live for generations and generations and generations.

SOURCE: To Be Young, Gifted and Black: Lorraine Hansberry in Her Own Words, adapted by Robert Nemiroff; with original drawings and art by Miss Hansberry; introduction by James Baldwin (Englewood Cliffs, N.J.: Prentice-Hall, Inc., 1969), p. 100. From a speech made at a Negro Writers' Conference.

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