Nina Simone Details How Friend, Lorraine Hansberry, Inspired One of Her Iconic Songs

Nina Simone credits a photo of Lorraine Hansberry as inspiration for her song "To Be Young Gifted, and Black."

Hansberry's collection of writings and interviews were published after her death in 1965. It was produced and adapted into an off-Broadway show that ran for eight months. Simone cites an article on the play in the New York Times, more specifically a picture that Simone said "caught hold" of her, was what inspired the iconic singer to go to her piano and start composing.

Joneka Percentie is a rising junior studying Mass Media Communications, Africana Studies, and Women’s and Gender Studies at UNC Charlotte. When she’s not blogging with SPARK Movement, or tweeting @jpercentie, she enjoys singing, reading, and sleeping. Email her at


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