I grew up in the South of legal segregation and illegal but almost always unpunished violence against African Americans. There was, nevertheless, something compelling and satisfying about the way of life of my family and their community, an indefinable quality that I tried to evoke in my play The Bridge Party. What was that something? Why is it that some of my best memories are of life in the South of the forties and fifties?
I am not sure I can answer these questions completely, and I am not sure I want to. Indeed, I can think of no more effective way to stifle inspiration than to theorize about the emotional sources of my plays. Still, one can hazard a few guesses. Because of my particular life history, my childhood memories just happen to be memories of the South before the civil-rights era. Since childhood memories have a special importance in everyone's life, perhaps no other explanation is needed. But I think something more is involved. Because racism was then legally entrenched and publicly justified, it was a significant accomplishment to build a life with