This hour-long, one-on-one interview provides a candid glimpse into the lives of actors and national treasures, Ossie Davis and Ruby Dee. Taped on October 18, 2002 at The Art Institute of Chicago in front of a live audience, the couple was interviewed by activist and scholar Angela Davis.
Master of Ceremonies Micah Materre, WGN-TV morning news anchor, began the program speaking of the profound influence Ossie Davis and Ruby Dee had on her life. Davis and Dee begin the interview describing their involvement in political and social campaigns. They then lovingly described when they met, during the American Negro Theater’s production of Jeb, and getting married in New Jersey in 1948.
Davis and Dee then told stories of their relationship with Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Malcolm X as well as how they included their children in their political activism. They reflected on the connection between art and politics and offered ideas on how to encourage younger generations to work for positive change in the world.
Ossie Davis was born on December 18, 1917, in Cogdell, Georgia. Davis made his Broadway debut in 1946, in Jeb, where he met his wife and fellow actress, Ruby Dee. Davis went on to perform in many Broadway productions. In 1961, he wrote and starred in the critically acclaimed Purlie Victorious. Davis also wrote and directed numerous films, including Cottonmouth Comes to Harlem and Countdown at Kusini, the first American feature film shot entirely in Africa by black professionals. His films also include Dr. Dolittle and I’m Not Rappaport. Davis was a leading activist in the civil rights era of the 1960s and beyond. Davis received many honors and awards. He and his wife published a joint autobiography, With Ossie and Ruby: In This Life Together.
Davis passed away in 2005.
Ruby Dee was born Ruby Ann Wallace on October 27, 1924, in Cleveland, Ohio. Dee was raised during the golden age of Harlem. After high school she attended New York's Hunter College, graduating in 1945. Dee was drawn to the theatre while still a college student. Dee acted in small Shakespearean productions and landed a role in the play, South Pacific, in 1943. She also began to study with the American Negro Theatre, where she would meet her future husband Ossie Davis. Dee appeared in over fifty movies. In 1950, she played Jackie Robinson's wife in The Jackie Robinson Story and forty years later, she played his mother in the television production, The Court Martial of Jackie Robinson. In 2007, her performance in American Gangster earned her an Academy Award nomination for Best Actress in a Supporting Role.
Dee passed away in 2014.
Author, activist and educator Angela Davis was born on January 26, 1944 in Alabama. After high school, she studied in Germany before returning to earn a B.S. from Brandeis University in 1965. She returned to Europe, and then went on to study at the University of California, San Diego, for her M.A. She began teaching at UCSD in 1969, but was released a year later for her ties to the Communist Party. In 1970, she was arrested and charged with murder after some of her associates attempted a prison break. She was acquitted and returned to teaching in 1972. While with the Communist Party, Davis ran for vice president twice, but left the party with the fall of the Soviet Union. Today, Davis speaks internationally about injustice, especially in the prison system. She is the author of several books and is a professor at the University of California, Santa Cruz.
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