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Public Square - A Podcast of The Public Theater

Bonus Episode 1

"Her Father Was a Republican: The Politics of Lorraine Hansberry"

In this 1st Episode Bonus Episode of the Public Square 2.0, the re-launch of The Public Theater’s Podcast, “Public Square.” We give you a front row seat to a conversation from one of our Fall Productions, Lorraine Hansberry’s “A Raisin in the Sun”.  On Friday, October 21, 2022, Dr. Imani Perry and Tracy Heather Strain, were in conversation following a performance.  The evening was in partnership with the Lorraine Hansberry Initiative.  Host Garlia Cornelia Jones, The Public’s new and first ever Director of Innovation and New Media, introduces the Bonus Episodes and drops you into the evening.

This Audio-only episode is available wherever you find your podcasts.  Each full episode of Public Square 2.0, will continue to guide you through a behind the scenes look as we connect with artists and staff.  Welcome home, to Public Square—we’re so happy to have you back!  

Hosted by Garlia Cornelia Jones

Executive Producer: Garlia Cornelia Jones, Director - Innovation and New Media

Creative Producer: John Sloan III, Ghostlight Productions

Audio Producer: Justin K. Sloan, Ghostlight Productions

Assistant Producer: Emily White - New Media Associate

Graphics by Tam Shell, Art Director - Brand Studio

Music Credits:
“Latte” By Sunny Fruit, Artlist.io

Transcript by 3Play

Bonus Episode 1 Transcript


Image of Imani Perry

Imani Perry


Imani Perry is the Hughes-Rogers Professor of African American Studies at Princeton University and a faculty associate with the Programs in Law and Public Affairs, Gender and Sexuality Studies and Jazz Studies. She is the author of 6 books, including Looking for Lorraine: The Radiant and Radical Life of Lorraine Hansberry, which received the Pen Bograd-Weld Award for Biography, The Phi Beta Kappa Christian Gauss Award for outstanding work in literary scholarship, the Lambda Literary Award for LGBTQ Nonfiction and the Shilts-Grahn Award for nonfiction from the Publishing Triangle. Looking for Lorraine was also named a 2018 notable book by the New York Times, and a honor book by the Black Caucus of the American Library Association. It was a finalist  for the African American Intellectual History Society Paul Murray Book Prize. Her book May We Forever Stand: A History of the Black National Anthem, winner of the 2019 American Studies Association John Hope Franklin Book Award for the best book in American Studies, the Hurston Wright Award for Nonfiction, and finalist for an NAACP Image Award in Nonfiction. Her most recent book is: Breathe: A Letter to My Sons (Beacon Press, 2019) which was a finalist for the 2020 Chautauqua Prize and a finalist for the NAACP Image Award for Excellence in Nonfiction.

Perry is a scholar of law, literary and cultural studies, and an author of creative nonfiction. She earned her Ph.D. in American Studies from Harvard University, a J.D. from Harvard Law School, an LLM from Georgetown University Law Center and a BA from Yale College in Literature and American Studies. Her writing and scholarship primarily focuses on the history of Black thought, art, and imagination crafted in response to, and resistance against, the social, political and legal realities of domination in the West. She seeks to understand the processes of retrenchment after moments of social progress, and how freedom dreams are nevertheless sustained. Her book: Vexy Thing: On Gender and Liberation (Duke University Press 2018) is a work of critical theory that contends with the formation of modern patriarchy at the dawn of capitalism, the transatlantic slave trade, and the age of conquest, and traces it through to the contemporary hypermedia neoliberal age. Her book More Beautiful and More Terrible: The Embrace and Transcendence of Racial Inequality in the United States (NYU Press, 2011) is an examination of contemporary practices of racial inequality that are sustained and extended through a broad matrix of cultural habits despite formal declarations of racial equality. 

Perry’s forthcoming book under contract with ECCO Press is a narrative journey through the South, arguing that it is the nation’s heartland for better and worse. Future planned projects include an examination of African American theories of law and justice, and a meditation on the color blue in Black life. 

Image of Tracy Heather Strain

Tracy Heather Strain


Tracy Heather Strain, based in Middletown, Connecticut, is drawn to individual stories that reveal the ways that race, gender, ethnicity, class and sexuality work to shape lives and reflect and challenge society’s historical, artistic, political and cultural narratives. Her films in the award-winning series Unnatural Causes: Is Inequality Making Us Sick?, Race: The Power of an Illusion and I’ll Make Me a World: A Century of African American Arts serve as early examples.

With Sighted Eyes/Feeling Heart, the first feature film about Lorraine Hansberry, Strain incorporated her 36-year practice, rooted in discovering, researching and directing new and often unknown stories to advance social justice, build community and empower the marginalized into a documentary described by Robin D. G. Kelley as “a gorgeous visual love letter…in its brilliance, honesty, and vision.” After its premiere at the 2017 Toronto International Film Festival, the documentary subsequently won several awards including a Peabody and NAACP Image Award for directing.

Strain makes her films through The Film Posse, the production company she co-founded with her partner and colleague Randall MacLowry. The pair is producing a film for American Experience about Zora Neale Hurston focused on her anthropology work for which Strain is directing and writing. Her next independent project is Survival Floating, a hybrid documentary investigating African-descended peoples’ relationships with swimming.

A faculty member at Wesleyan University, Strain is the Corwin-Fuller Professor of Film Studies, Associate Professor of Film Studies, Associate Director of the College of Film and the Moving Image and with MacLowry, Co-Director of the Wesleyan Documentary Project.