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Dee was considered a legend among her peers in both the entertainment and the political world, having appeared in a countless number of movies, television shows and Broadway plays as well as having been an active member of the Congress for Race Equality, the NAACP, the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference. Dee and her husband, the late Ossie Davis, were also close friends with both Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr and Malcolm X–Ossie gave the eulogy at Malcolm X’s funeral. Many may remember when Ruby Dee and Ossie Davis were arrested in NY for protesting the police shooting of Amadou Diallo. The activist couple also received the Lifetime Achievement Freedom Award presented to them by the National Civil Rights Museum in Memphis, Tennessee.
As an actress, Ruby Dee’s was a presence that you couldn’t forget with her big, inquisitive eyes and her petite frame. She was the epitome of strength, style, and grace. Whether it was alongside Ossie in movies such as 1963’s Purlie Victorious and Spike Lee’s 1989 Do the Right Thing, or by herself in 1961’s A Raisin in the Sun and 2007’s American Gangster–the film that garnered her her first Oscar nomination–she was captivating.
Many black actresses today can claim their place in the industry because women such as Ruby Dee made a way for them. We are thankful for the life and legacy of Ruby Dee and celebrate her good deeds. On this day we sweetly hope that she will be reunited with Ossie Davis and that they will continue to live in our consciousness for years to come.
Rest in peace Ruby Dee.