actress, activist and author ruby dee made transition on wednesday. she was 91 years old. born ruby ann wallace on 10/27/22, dee's family moved to the village of harlem (in new york city) from her native cleveland during the height of the harlem renaissance.
dee attended hunter college and, there, embraced her love of the theater. she performed in various shakespearean productions, and in the play, south pacific. dee also studied at the american negro theatre, where she met her future husband ossie davis. their soulful partnership was cultivated working together on a tour of anna lucasta.
dee became a pioneer for black female artists. she was the first black woman to have lead roles at the american shakepseare festival. dee's many stage awards include the obie award for her role in athol fugard's boesman and lena; a drama desk award for her performance in alice childress' wedding band; and an ace award for her work in eugene o'neill's long day's journey into night.
dee's remarkable talent landed her roles in over 50 films. she was featured in a raisin in the sun (1961), uptight (1968), buck and the preacher (1972) and do the right thing (1989). she also appeared in many tv productions, including roots: the next generation (1979). dee garnered seven emmy nominations - winning in 1991 for her outstanding performance in decoration day.
in 2008, at age 85, dee received an oscar nomination: best supporting actress for her role in american gangster. she told the associated press she never felt snubbed by the academy for not being nominated before. dee said, "i didn't have the kind of talent or personality that kept me dreaming about hollywood. they don't hire little colored girls to do this or that. after i got that in my head, i took another direction."
dee and davis were equally active in the civil rights movement. dee was a member of the congress of racial equality, naacp, southern christian leadership conference and student nonviolent coordinating committee. dee and davis eulogized their friend, malcolm x, at his funeral in 1965, and his widow, betty shabazz, at hers in 1997. they also traveled to lagos, nigeria as goodwill ambassadors.
their marriage of 57 years culturally affirmed black love, integrity and success. davis made transition in 2005. in the book, with ossie & ruby: in this life together, the iconic couple shared tales of acting, activism, marriage and parenting (they had two daughters and one son).
dee and davis were honored together for their artistic achievements. they were inducted into the naacp image awards hall of fame in 1989, received the national medal of arts in 1995 and the screen actors guild's life achievement award in 2000.
- mark j. tuggle
- harlem, usa
- same-gender-loving contemporary descendant of enslaved africans. community activist, feminist, health educator, independent filmmaker, mentor, playwright, poet & spiritual being. featured at, in & on africana.com, afrikan poetry theatre, angel herald, bejata dot com, bet tonight with tavis smiley, blacklight online, black noir, brooklyn moon cafe, gmhc's barbershop, klmo-fm, lgbt community services center, longmoor productions, nuyorican poets cafe, our corner, poz, pulse, rolling out new york, rush arts gallery, saint veronica's church, schomburg center for research in black culture, sexplorations, the citizen, the new york times, the soundz bar, the trenton times, the village voice, upn news, uzuri, venus, vibe, wbai-fm, wnyc-fm & wqht-fm. volunteered with adodi, bailey house, inc., black men's xchange-new york, colorofchange.org, drug policy alliance, east harlem tutorial program, imagenation film & music festival, presente.org, save darfur coalition, the enough project, the osborne association, the sledge group & your black world. worked on films with maurice jamal & heather murphy. writing student of phil bertelsen & ed bullins. firstname.lastname@example.org.