Remembering Ruby Dee


Ruby’s Words

Loved this introduction on

As a youngster, I remember how impressed I was when my brother, Edward, mastered the art of communication with a couple of tin cans and some wire strung between buildings in our neighborhood in Harlem. When I stop to think about how we communicate now — how these words I now write can be transported and translated around the planet in less than an instant, I am simply amazed. What an interesting time to be alive!

It can also be a bit overwhelming. I must admit that the vocabulary of bits and bytes, RAM and ROM is uneasy on my tongue. I still keep an ample stash of pens and paper — and even my old typewriter — nearby, just in case! Ossie, on the other hand, was positively fearless when it came to the new technology. “It’s a tool,” he’d remind me as he moved effortlessly to the click-click-click of the changing times.

Wherever his sweet spirit now resides, I know he’s delighted to join me in welcoming you to — the next, electronic chapter in the story of Ossie Davis & Ruby Dee. It is the culmination of the efforts of many people whose task it was to harvest from both our lives the fruits of our labors — as individuals, as collaborators, as actors, as activists, as true lovers of a good story.

For more than 50 years, our journey has taken us to theaters, sound stages, and audio booths — as well as to union halls, schools, college campuses, and the streets — where we’ve hob-hearted and hobnobbed with some beautiful people. Along the way we have seen, heard, and learned many things that have cascaded unforgettably over our lives — things too precious not to share.

It is our hope that will be both resource and repository. Sometimes we have felt like a couple of folks on a march, moving along an unpredictable path, lit only by the stories of those who had gone before us. Finally, it has become our turn to carry the lantern as well as the road map that may help lead us all, in the words of W.E.B DuBois, to “life lit by some large vision of goodness, beauty, and truth.”

— Ruby Dee

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The Poets on Ruby


The History of Ruby

Ruby Dee (October 27, 1922-June 11, 2014) was an American actress, playwright, screenwriter, activist, poet and journalist, perhaps best known for starring in the 1961 film A Raisin in the Sun. She’s also known for her civic work with husband Ossie Davis.


Born in Ohio in 1922, actress Ruby Dee grew up in Harlem and joined the American Negro Theatre in 1941. She is well known for collaborations with her husband, actor Ossie Davis. Dee’s film career spans a generation and includes 1950’s The Jackie Robinson Story, 1961’s A Raisin in the Sun and 1988’s Do the Right Thing. In 2008, Dee received her first Oscar nomination for playing Mama Lucas in the hit film American Gangster.

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Ruby Dee

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