Film Screening – Lorraine Hansberry: Sighted Eyes/Feeling Heart

Film Screening, Panel Discussion, Screening

Film Screening – Lorraine Hansberry: Sighted Eyes/Feeling Heart

Tue, Oct 30, 2018 4:00 pm-7:00 pm ISEC Auditorium 102
Film Screening, Panel Discussion, Screening Tue, Oct 30, 2018
4:00 pm-7:00 pm ISEC Auditorium 102

Please join us for a screening of Lorraine Hansberry: Sighted Eyes/Feeling Heart, a documentary directed by Tracy Heather Strain, Northeastern Professor of Media and Screen Studies and Peabody Award-winning filmmaker.

The screening will be followed by a conversation with the film’s director and Margaret A. Burnham, University Distinguished Professor and Director, Civil Rights and Restorative Justice Project moderated by Nicole N. Aljoe, Director of African & African American Studies & Associate Professor of English.

4 – 6PM Film Screening 
6 – 7PM Panel Discussion

About the film: On March 11, 1959, Lorraine Hansberry’s A Raisin in the Sun opened on Broadway and changed the face of American theater forever. As the first-ever black woman to author a play performed on Broadway, she did not shy away from richly drawn characters and unprecedented subject matter. The play attracted record crowds and earned the coveted top prize from the New York Drama Critics’ Circle. While the play is seen as a groundbreaking work of art, the story of Hansberry’s life is far less known.

Part of PBS’s American Masters series, the new documentary Lorraine Hansberry: Sighted Eyes, Feeling Heart is the first in-depth presentation of Hansberry’s complex life, using her personal papers and archives, including home movies and rare photos, as source material. The film explores the influences that shaped Hansberry’s childhood, art, and activism. Filmmaker and Peabody Award-winner Tracy Heather Strain (Unnatural Causes, I’ll Make Me a World, American Experience: Building the Alaska Highway) crafts the story of one woman who believed, like many of her generation, that words could change society. Family, friends, and colleagues, including Sidney Poitier, Ruby Dee, Harry Belafonte, her sister Mamie Hansberry, Lloyd Richards, Amiri Baraka, and Louis Gossett Jr., share their personal memories of Hansberry, offering an intimate look at a woman who was, as Poitier says in the film, “reaching into the essence of who we were, who we are, and where we came from.” 

This evening is co-presented by Northeastern’s African & African American Studies Program; Department of Cultures, Societies, and Global Studies; Center for the Arts; John D. O’Bryant African American Institute and Northeastern School of Law. 



ISEC Auditorium 102

777 Columbus Ave, Boston, MA 02120

Northeastern University Interdisciplinary Science & Engineering Complex Auditorium

Tracy Heather Strain

Director, Professor of the Practice Media & Screen Studies

Tracy Heather Strain’s teaching focuses on documentary storytelling, production management and history. She is an award-winning filmmaker and film/video director, producer, writer and consultant with over 28 years of experience. Her latest broadcast documentary, “The Mine Wars” AMERICAN EXPERIENCE, for which she served as coordinating producer, tells the story of West Virginia coal miners’ uprisings in the early 20th century, and will air on PBS early 2016. Emerging technologies in the service of storytelling, production management and education—interactive documentary storytelling, online media and interdisciplinary humanities course development are particular interests.

Professor Strain is currently producing Sighted Eyes/Feeling Heart, a feature documentary about the late playwright Lorraine Hansberry (A Raisin in the Sun), a key component of her multiplatform initiative focused on fostering artistic expression, empowering activists, supporting healthy identity development and promoting academic achievement through media stories about the life, art and times of Hansberry. She is President and CEO of Fort Point Channel-based media company, The Film Posse, which she runs with husband/partner Randall MacLowry.

Professor Strain received her EdM in Technology, Innovation and Education from Harvard University.

For more information, visit

Nicole Aljoe

Director of African American Studies & Associate Professor of English

Professor Nicole N. Aljoe is an associate professor of English and African American Studies. Her fields of specialization are eighteenth- and nineteenth-century Black Atlantic Literature, the Slave Narrative, Postcolonial Studies, and eighteenth-century British Novel. Professor Aljoe’s recent publications include “Caribbean Slave Narratives” in The Oxford Handbook of African American Slave Narratives. She is co-editor of Journeys of the Slave Narrative in the Early Americas, University of Virginia Press, 2014 and co-editor of Islands in the Stream: The Early Caribbean in Literary History (forthcoming Palgrave MacMillan).

Professor Aljoe’s current projects include:

Digital Humanities Projects
• Co-Director, Early Caribbean Digital Archive
• Project Convener, Just Teach One: African American Print (
• Editor: Caribbeana: The Journal of the Early Caribbean Society (
Early Black Boston Digital Almanac
Book Projects (in progress)
• “Do You Remember the Days of Slavery: The Neo-Slave Narrative in Contemporary Caribbean Cultural Production”
• “Racing the Rise of the Novel: Black Lives and the 18th Century Novel in Europe”

Margaret Burnham

Distinguished University Professor and Director, Civil Rights and Restorative Justice Project

Professor Burnham joined the Northeastern University School of Law faculty in 2002. Her fields of expertise are civil and human rights, comparative constitutional rights, and international criminal law. She is the founder of the School of Law’s Civil Rights and Restorative Justice Project (CRRJ), which conducts research and supports policy initiatives on anti-civil rights violence in the United States and other miscarriages of justice during the period 1930-1970. CRRJ serves as a resource for scholars, policymakers and organizers involved in various initiatives seeking justice for these crimes. In 2010, Professor Burnham headed a team of outside counsel and law students in a landmark case that settled a federal lawsuit: Professor Burnham’s team accused Franklin County Mississippi law enforcement officials of assisting Klansmen in the kidnapping, torture and murder of two 19-year-olds, Henry Dee and Charles Eddie Moore. The case and settlement were widely covered in the national press.

In 2016, Professor Burnham was selected for the competitive and prestigious Carnegie Fellows Program. Provided to just 33 recipients nationwide, the fellowship provides the “country’s most creative thinkers with grants of up to $200,000 each to support research on challenges to democracy and international order.” Professor Burnham is using the funding to deepen and extend CRRJ’s work and research dedicated to seeking justice for crimes of the civil rights era.

Professor Burnham began her career at the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund. In the 1970s, she represented civil rights and political activists. In 1977, she became the first African American woman to serve in the Massachusetts judiciary, when she joined the Boston Municipal Court bench as an associate justice. In 1982, she became partner in a Boston civil rights firm with an international human rights practice. In 1993, South African president Nelson Mandela appointed Professor Burnham to serve on an international human rights commission to investigate alleged human rights violations within the African National Congress. The commission was a precursor to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.

A former fellow of the Bunting Institute at Radcliffe College and Harvard University’s W.E.B. DuBois Institute for Afro-American Studies, Professor Burnham has written extensively on contemporary legal and political issues.