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1001 Donors

A Chicago book that holds special meaning to me

JoAnn Fastoff

The word “family” conjures up for me several positions – constructive as well as harmful.

A Raisin in the Sun is about family, and it’s about dreams. It’s about the Younger Family and how a boat-load of money that lands in their laps make each family member of five dream differently. The Patriarch of the Younger family died and left a $10,000 life insurance policy, and each family member has a different vision for the use of the money. Mama has a dream of buying a house. No one else seems to share this dream; however, news, in the form of racism, brings all the family members together.

I loved this story because I, too, grew up on Chicago’s southside. I remember when Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. walked through the all-white neighborhood of Marquette Park with several thousand others to clarify fair housing. He had a dream.

My grandmother use to say, “more money only makes more of who you really are.”

I remember when I started as a writer, and the naysayers said, “It’s hard work, nobody’s going to read your stuff, stop dreaming and get a real job.” A Raisin in the Sun is about dreams deferred, but I took it as a message to work my dream and not bow to those who were afraid of courage and perseverance.

I loved when Walter Lee revived his self-worth after telling the white representative from the Homeowners Association that his family would not take the money they offered to move elsewhere. Courage makes you stand up straight.

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