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Davis, Ossie

b. 1917 - d. 2005

Ossie Davis, born Raiford Chatman Davis, was a celebrated actor, writer, director, producer and social activist. His stage and film career began after he left Howard University in 1939. As an actor, Davis refused to play the stereotypical African American and largely succeeded in imbuing his characters with dignity. He is also known for writing the play Purlie Victorious and directing the film classic Cotton Comes to Harlem. Passionate about civil rights causes, Davis emceed the 1963 March on Washington. Years later he delivered a powerful eulogy in honor of the slain Malcolm X and a moving tribute in honor of Dr. King. Davis was married to actress Ruby Dee. He collaborated with her closely throughout his life.

Associated Archive Content : 12 results

"They are Waiting for Godot in Mississippi, Too"

This article, posted in the New York Times, discusses the play, "Waiting for Godot," held by the Free Southern Theatre in Mississippi. The play focuses on racial and social issues dealing with civil rights.

Howard University Charter Day Observance

Howard University celebrates its' Charter Day Observance with a program that includes a speech by Dr. King. The program also acknowledges the recipients of the Alumni Achievement Award. Such individuals include Ossie Davis and Leroy F. Florant.

If I were a Negro

Rabbi I. Usher Kirshblum writes Dr. King to share an article he wrote in the "Jewish Center of Kew Garden Hills Bulletin." The article references the expelling of Congressman Adam Clayton Powell and criticizes the African American response towards his defense. The author states, "If I were a Negro I would not waste my time in defending Powell's wrong acts but would rather speak of the many good acts he performed." Rabbi Kirshblum goes on to praise the views of men like Dr. King and Rev. Roy Wilkins, while rejecting those of Stokely Carmichael.

Letter from Edmund Gordon to MLK

Edmund W. Gordon expresses his gratitude for Dr. King's agreement to use his name in connection with the development of a Memorial Park honoring W.E.B Dubois. Mr. Gordon also informs Dr. King of the other participants of the project along with a brief description of his professional background.

Letter from Grace Newman to Rev. Abernathy

Ms. Grace Newman, National Chairman of the Fort Hood Three Defense Committee, informs Rev. Abernathy of her support of his leadership in SCLC. In honor of her pledge to Dr. King, she promises to continue working to organize poor communities in Puerto Rico.

Letter from Mr. Ossie Davis to MLK

Mr. Ossie Davis suggests to Dr. King that a tribute be prepared to honor the life of Dr. W. E. B. DuBois. Mr. Davis then asks Dr. King for his assistance in gaining sponsorship from "distinguished men and women."

Letter from Ossie Davis to MLK Regarding Malcolm X Assassination

In this letter, Ossie Davis asserts to Dr. King that it is true that there is one law for whites and another for blacks. Ossie continues by expressing his feelings on Malcolm X's assassination. He closes his letter by asking for Dr. King's signature and monetary donation for an ad.

Letter from Wyatt Walker to Hy Resnick

On behalf of Dr. King, Wyatt Walker thanks Hy Resnick and the Mount Vernon YM & YWHA for their efforts to raise money to aid the civil rights movement. He then suggests a number of entertainers that might be useful through Harry Belafonte's associations.

Ossie Davis Defines Blackness and Whiteness

In this document,Ossie Davis uses Roget's Thesaurus and defines the words "whiteness" and "blackness" only to find many positive outcomes for whiteness and an abundance of negative synonyms for blackness.

Proposed Program: Lincoln Memorial

This program entails several male and female speakers who are deeply rooted and connected in the Civil Rights Movement. These speakers were expected to speak at the Lincoln Memorial.

Report of A Participant

This report illustrates the authors concern and outlook on the Vietnam war.

Richard Parrish and Daniel H. Watts Press Release on William Worthy Passport Case

This news release announces plans to picket the American Jewish Congress Award Banquet held for Attorney General Robert Kennedy at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel in New York. The Attorney General is to receive an award "for advancing human freedom."