Ruby Dee: Black America Mourns Loss of Civil Rights Princess

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Darwin Campbell, African-American News&Issues

NEW YORK-Award-winning actress Ruby Dee has taken her seat among the ancestors. She was 91.

Her career spanned seven decades and did more to raise Black America about the importance of respecting, loving and honoring Black history, heritage and culture 24/7/365.

Dee entered into eternal rest at her home in New Rochelle, New York. She is preceded in death by her late husband and great actor Ossie Davis.

Both were a force not only in performing art, but also in the civil rights movement.

Some of their notable contributions include being master and mistress of ceremonies at the 1963 March on Washington and were involved with the freedom fighter work of Malcolm X and Martin Luther King Jr.

Freedom fighting was a passion and that was evident by both her and her husband willingness to lay it all on the line.

They appeared at protest rallies and took their children with them. She admitted to a fiery temperament.

Dee and Davis were arrested in 1999 while protesting outside New York City police headquarters against the police shooting of an unarmed African immigrant, Amadou Diallo.

At the time, Dee told reporters the shooting “reminds me of when there were lynchings all over the country.”

She made it clear then her position on police brutality. “We’ve got to start saying ‘No further. This must stop,’ ” Dee said.

Dee was born Ruby Ann Wallace in Cleveland, Ohio, in 1922, and moved to New York’s Harlem as a child. She took the surname Dee after marrying blues singer Frankie Dee two decades later. She divorced Dee after a short marriage and was wedded to Davis in 1948.

But their beliefs were often as one, and they practiced what they preached.

Despite coming from two areas of the country, the two were inseparable and not ashamed of their mission to be promote Black history and heritage and be positive examples and lights in the Black community.

“We shared a great deal in common; we didn’t have any distractions as to where we stood in society. We were black activists. We had a common understanding,” she told Ebony in 1988.

Her acting career started in New York in the 1940s, first appearing onscreen in the 1946 musical “That Man of Mine.” A role in “The Jackie Robinson Story” brought her national attention.

Dee has a long resume of film credits that include “The Jackie Robinson Story” (1950), “A Raisin in the Sun” (1961), “Buck and the Preacher” (1972), “Do the Right Thing” (1989) and “American Gangster” (2007).

Dee became known to a younger generation with roles in two Spike Lee films. She co-starred with Davis in Lee’s “Do the Right Thing” and in his 1991 film “Jungle Fever.”

Her television work included 20 episodes of “Peyton Place” in 1969 and the role of Queen Haley in the 1979 miniseries “Roots: The Next Generation.”

Dee is survived by three children, Guy Davis, Hasna Muhammad Davis and Nora Day Davis.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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