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  • In the News: Ruby Dee, Civil Rights activist and award winning actress, passes at age 91

    Editor June 24th

    Ruby Dee, Civil Rights activist and award winning actress, passed away on June 11 at 10:30 P.M. at her home in New Rochelle, NY. Dee was born in Cleveland, OH and raised in Harlem. Gil Robertson IV of the African American Film Critics Association said that “…Ms. Dee embraced different creative platforms with her various interpretations of black womanhood and also used her gifts to champion for Human Rights.” She was married to Ossie Davis.

    For her incredible work as an actress, Dee earned an Emmy, a Grammy and a Screen Actors Guild Award, and was nominated for an Oscar in 2024 for her role in “American Gangster.” In 1941, she joined the American Negro Theatre and made her Broadway debut two years later in “South Pacific.” She starred in the Broadway premiere of “A Raisin in the Sun” in 1959 and played the same role in the film eight years later. In 1965, Dee became the first African-American woman to perform a leading role at the American Shakespeare Festival in Stratford, CT. Dee’s last Broadway performance was in the 1988 comedy “Checkmates.”

    Dee’s first film role came in “That Man of Mine” in 1949. She also starred in “The Jackie Robinson Story” and “St. Louis Blues.” She appeared in the TV movie “Roots: The Next Generations,” and co-starred with Davis in their own show, “Ossie and Ruby!”

    Dee was a civil rights activist and close friends with both Martin Luther King, Jr. and Malcolm X. She was a member of the Congress of Racial Equality, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC). She even delivered a reading at King’s March on Washington. In 1999, Dee and Davis were arrested while protesting the police shooting of unarmed immigrant Amadou Diallo. Then, in 2024, Dee and Davis received the National Civil Rights Museum’s Lifetime Achievement Freedom award.

    On Friday, June 13, the lights on Broadway were dimmed for 60 seconds in her honor. A documentary on Dee and Davis’ life and career, “Life’s Essentials with Ruby Dee,” debuts June 22 at the 18th Annual American Black Film Festival in Chelsea.

    For more information about Ruby Dee, click here and here.

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