By Lorraine Hansberry
Postwar Chicago: The Youngers, a black family from the South Side, have just purchased a house in the all-white neighborhood of Clybourne Park. WALTER and BENEATHA younger are brother and sister. RUTH is WALTER’s wife. KARL LINDNER, a white representative of Clybourne Park’s property owners’ association, arrives at the Youngers’ dilapidated apartment on moving day.
LINDNER: Yes. Well. I’m going to try to get right to the point. I’m sure we’ll all appreciate that in the long run.
WALTER: Be still now!
RUTH: [Still innocently] Would you like another chair—you don’t look comfortable.
LINDNER: [More frustrated than annoyed] No, thank you very much. Please. Well— to get right to the point I— [A great breath, and he is off at last] I am sure you people must be aware of some of the incidents which have happened in various parts of the city when colored people have moved into certain areas—[BENEATHA exhales heavily and starts tossing a piece of fruit up and down in the air] Well— because we have what I think is going to be a unique type of organization in American community life— not only do we deplore that kind of thing— but we are trying to do something about it. [BENEATHA stops tossing and turns with a new and quizzical interest to the man] We feel— [Gaining confidence in his mission because of the interest in the faces of the people he is talking to] we feel that most of the trouble in this world, when you come right down to it— [He hits his knee for emphasis] most of the trouble exists because people just don’t sit down and talk to each other.
RUTH: [Nodding as she might in church, pleased with the remark] You can say that again, mister.
LINDNER: [More encouraged by such affirmation] That we don’t try hard enough in this world to understand the other fellow’s problem. The other guy’s point of view.
RUTH: Now that’s right. [BENEATHA and WALTER merely watch and listen with genuine interest]
LINDNER: Yes— that’s the way we feel out in Clybourne Park. And that’s why I was elected to come here this afternoon and talk to you people. Friendly like, you know, the way people should talk to each other and see if we couldn’t find some way to work this thing out. As I say, the whole business is a matter of caring about the other fellow. Anybody can see that you are a nice family of folks, hard working and honest I’m sure. [BENEATHA frowns slightly, quizzically, her head tilted regarding him] Today everybody knows what it means to be on the outside of something. And of course, there is always somebody who is out to take advantage of people who don’t always understand.
WALTER: What do you mean?
LINDNER: Well— you see our community is made up of people who’ve worked hard as the dickens for years to build up that little community. They’re not rich and fancy people; just hardworking, honest people who don’t really have much but those little homes and a dream of the kind of community they want to raise their children in. Now, I don’t say we are perfect and there is a lot wrong in some of the things they want. But you’ve got to admit that a man, right or wrong, has the right to want to have the neighborhood he lives in a certain kind of way. And at the moment the overwhelming majority of our people out there feel that people get along better, take more of a common interest in the life of the community, when they share a common background. I want you to believe me when I tell you that race prejudice simply doesn’t enter into it. It is a matter of the people of Clybourne Park believing, rightly or wrongly, as I say, that for the happiness of all concerned that our Negro families are happier when they live in their own communities.
BENEATHA: [With a grand and bitter gesture] This, friends, is the Welcoming Committee!