Black News and News Makers in History: Ruby Dee

African American news from Pasadena - Black News and News Makers in History recognizes Ruby Dee this week in Black historyRuby Dee, actress, poet, playwright, screenwriter, journalist and activist,

Ruby Dee, born on October 27, 1924 Ruby Ann Wallace in Cleveland, Ohio, her father, Marshall Edward Wallace, was a porter, cook and waiter on the Pennsylvania Railroad. After her mother left, her father married Emma Amelia Benson Wallace, a schoolteacher. She grew up in Harlem, New York, and was a 1945 graduate of Hunter College with degrees in French and Spanish. She is a member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc.

Dee was the first black woman to appear in major roles at the American Shakespeare Festival, in Stratford, Connecticut. She became one of the foremost actresses in America, beginning her career on Broadway in the early 1940's, where she made several appearances.

She married actor Ossie Davis and had a strong personal career with such notable stage roles as "A Raisin in the Sun," "Purlie Victorious," and "The Taming of the Shrew." Later she would get national recognition for her role in the 1950 film, The Jackie Robinson Story.

During the 1960s, Dee appeared in such politically charged films such as Gone Are the Days and The Incident, which paved the way for many young African American filmmakers and actors.

Her acting career has crossed all major forms of media, television series and movies, over a span of eight decades. This includes A Raisin in the Sun, the screen version of Edge of the City, both times opposite Sidney Poitier (1961), Uptight (1968), Buck and the Preacher (1972), the widely viewed and historical important television series, Roots (1978), Do The Right Thing (1989), Jungle Fever (1991) by Spike Lee and starring Wesley Snipes, and The Delany Sisters: The First Hundred Years (1999). She appeared an on episode of The Golden Girls. In its sixth season.

She has been nominated for seven Emmy Awards, winning once for her role in the 1990 television film, Decoration Day. She was nominated for her television guest appearance in the China Beach episode, "Skylark". (Her husband Ossie Davis (1917–2005) also appeared in that episode.)

In 1995, she and her husband were awarded the National Medal of Arts. They were also recipients of the Kennedy Center Honors in 2004.

In 2003, Ruby Dee also narrated a series of WPA slave narratives in the HBO film Unchained Memories.

In 2007, the winner of the Grammy Award for Best Spoken Word Album was tied between Dee and Ossie Davis for With Ossie And Ruby: In This Life Together, and former President Jimmy Carter.

She was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress in 2007 for her portrayal of Mama Lucas in American Gangster. In fact, she was the front-runner for the Best Supporting Actress award. She won the SAG award for the same performance.

At 83 years old, Dee is currently the second oldest nominee for Best Supporting Actress, behind Gloria Stuart who was 87 for her role in Titanic. This was Dee's first nomination.

Dee and her late husband, actor Ossie Davis, were well-known civil rights activists.

She is a member of such organizations as Congress of Racial Equality (CORE), the NAACP, the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, and Southern Christian Leadership Conference.

She and her husband were personal friends of both Martin Luther King, Jr. and Malcolm X, with Davis giving Malclom X's eulogy at his 1965 funeral.

Together, Dee and Davis wrote an autobiography in which they discuss their political activism. Together they had three children; son, blues musician Guy Davis, and two daughters, Nora Day, and Hasna Muhammad. Dee has survived breast cancer for more than 30 years.

In November 2005 Dee was awarded along with her late husband the Lifetime Achievement Freedom Award, presented by the National Civil Rights Museum located in Memphis, Tennessee. Dee, who is a long time resident of New Rochelle, New York, was inducted into the Westchester County Women's Hall of Fame on March 30, 2007 joining the ranks with past honorees, Hillary Clinton, Sally Ziegler and Nita Lowey. In 2009 she received an Honorary Degree from Princeton University.

Compiled from http://www.anothershadeofcolor.com and Wikipedia.