We learned today of the passing of a strong and lovely spirit, Ruby Dee. Known for her passionate activism and captivating acting, Dee set an example for us all. She and her late husband, Howard University Alumnus and Trustee Ossie Davis, worked tirelessly to use the arts to bring awareness to the unfair treatment of African Americans and people of color in entertainment and across the world and to foster change.
Born in Cleveland on Oct. 27, 1922, she was an unforgettable figure in the African American fight for equality. As a pillar of the civil rights movement, she was a resounding voice for change. Her work was honored by organizations in the movement, including the NAACP, the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE), the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) for her unparalleled work and advocacy.
Dee made regular visits to Howard University where Davis served as the Annenberg Honors Program professor. Throughout the years, the couple supported Howard University and its many students.
Her ability to breathe life into the characters she played was magical. An Emmy-award winning and Oscar-nominated actress, Dee probably was best known for her role in the 1961 film adaption of “A Raisin in the Sun.” She was also known for her groundbreaking daytime soap opera work, her role in “The Jackie Robinson Story” as well as the radio show, “The Ossie Davis and Ruby Dee Story Hour.” Her desire to perform burned brightly to the very end, as she captivated audiences across the country with her one-woman stage show, "My One Good Nerve: A Visit with Ruby Dee."
In 1982, Howard University conferred the Doctorate of Humane Letters on her for her extraordinary work. Undoubtedly a woman of “truth and service,” Ruby Dee will be missed by her Howard family and the world.