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Roanne Edwards

Ossie Davis was born in Cogdell, Georgia, the son of a railway engineer, and grew up in Waycross, Georgia. The harassment of his parents by the Ku Klux Klan impelled him early on to become a writer so that he could “truthfully portray the black man's experience.” At Howard University, under the tutelage of drama critic Alain Locke, Davis developed his theatrical talent, performing in a 1941 production of Joy Exceeding Glory with Harlem's Rose McClendon Players. Following his theater debut, however, he received few job offers and for nearly a year found himself living on the street.

Davis never lost his sense of purpose. After serving in the United States Army during World War II, he returned to New York, New York, where he won the title role in Robert Ardrey's play Jeb (1946). In 1948 he married fellow performer Ruby ...

Article

Samuel A. Hay

writer, actor, and director, was born in Cogdell, Georgia, the oldest of four children of Kince Charles Davis, an herb doctor and Bible scholar, and Laura Cooper. Ossie's mother intended to name him “R.C.,” after his paternal grandfather, Raiford Chatman Davis, but when the clerk at Clinch County courthouse thought she said “Ossie,” Laura did not argue with him, because he was white.

Ossie was attacked and humiliated while in high school by two white policemen, who took him to their precinct and doused him with cane syrup. Laughing, they gave the teenager several hunks of peanut brittle and released him. He never reported the incident but its memory contributed to his sensibilities and politics. In 1934 Ossie graduated from Center High School in Waycross Georgia and even though he received scholarships to attend Savannah State College and Tuskegee Institute he did ...

Article

Cassandra Jackson

Born in Cogsdell, Georgia, Ossie Davis grew up in nearby Waycross. He studied at Howard University for three years, then traveled to New York to pursue a career in the theater. With the encouragement of Alain Locke, Davis obtained a position with the Rose McClendon Players of Harlem, while writing in his spare time. The following year, he joined the U.S. Army, serving in the Medical Corps and in Special Services. While stationed in Liberia, he wrote and produced Goldbrickers of 1944, a musical variety show. Discharged in 1945, Davis returned to New York and gained the lead role in the play Jeb, which propelled his stage career. Also starring in the play was Davis's future wife, Ruby Dee, with whom he would continue to costar in plays and later in film. Among Davis's stage, film, and television credits are The Joe Louis Story ...

Article

Niambi Lee-Kong

actor, playwright, producer, director, and civil rights activist. Ossie Davis, though commonly known for his work in the dramatic arts, was a humanitarian and activist who used his talents and fame to fight for the humane treatment of his people and for recognition of their contributions to society.

Raiford Chatman Davis was born in Cogdell, Georgia, to Kince Charles Davis and Laura Cooper Davis. Though neither parent was formally educated, Davis's father was a preacher and a railroad construction engineer. Davis's name “Ossie” came from a clerk's misunderstanding the pronunciation of the initials “R. C.” when recording his birth.

In 1935 Davis graduated from Central High School in Waycross, Georgia. He then attended Howard University, where he met Alain Locke a professor of philosophy who had been the first black Rhodes scholar Locke recognized Ossie s talent introduced him to black theater and encouraged ...

Article

Sarah B. Buchanan

, Togolese filmmaker and international legal adviser for the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization, was born Ayele Folly-Reimann on 31 March 1954 in Lomé, Togo, to Amah Folly (a producer at the French world-music recording company OCORA and then at Radio France International) and Juliette Reimann. She has one sister. Folly studied law in Paris at the Université de Paris II–Panthéon-Assas. She began her career as an international legal adviser for UNESCO in 1981.

In the early 1990s Folly began making films In spired by Sarah Maldoror a French Guadeloupean filmmaker and Safi Faye a Senegalese filmmaker and ethnologist whom she has called des militantes dont le travail cinématographique est inspirant car il interroge l essence des problématiques des Africaines militants whose cinematographic work is inspiring because it interrogates the heart of the problems confronting African women Folly turned to film because she considers it similar to ...

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C. M. Winston

artist, curator, art historian, filmmaker, writer, and activist, was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the only child of Howard Pindell and Mildred, both educators. By the age of eight Pindell already aspired to be an artist, and she attended Saturday drawing classes at the Fleischer Art Memorial.

Pindell graduated cum laude with a BFA from Boston University and earned an MFA from Yale University's School of Art and Architecture in 1967. She moved to New York City in 1967 after graduating from Yale and she worked primarily as a painter of nonobjective and figurative works during the early years of her career That year she landed a job at the Museum of Modern Art MoMA as an exhibition assistant in the department of national and international circulating exhibitions At MoMA she rose through the ranks from curatorial assistant to associate curator in ...

Article

Samantha Crowell

civil rights activist and film producer, was born in Tarrytown, in suburban Westchester County, New York, the daughter of William “Billy” Richardson, an auto worker and union activist, and Mae Louise Tucker Richardson, who was at that time a homemaker. When Judy was seven her father died at work, forcing her mother to reenter the workforce as a civil servant. Despite efforts to place Judy on a business track at her high school, Mae Louise Richardson encouraged her daughter to take college preparatory courses, in which she was the only black student.

In 1962 Richardson entered Swarthmore College in Swarthmore, Pennsylvania, on a full scholarship. She was one of eight African American freshmen, the largest group of black students at the college to that date. During her first year at Swarthmore, Richardson began working with the Cambridge Movement in Cambridge, Maryland. Led by the activist Gloria Richardson ...

Article

David A. Gerstner

filmmaker, was born Marlon Troy Riggs in Fort Worth, Texas, to Jean Williams, director of Equal Employment Opportunity and Civil Rights, a federal agency, and Alvin Riggs, who had a career in military and federal service. In the late 1960s Jean and Alvin Riggs moved Marlon and his sister, Sascha, to Augusta, Georgia, where, among other racist incidents, Marlon's school would not sponsor him in the state spelling bee even though he won the local contest. Alvin Riggs's military job took the family to Germany, where Marlon spent his high school years.

Like other African Americans who had lived abroad Marlon was struck by the overt racism and segregation that he experienced upon his return to the United States In addition to the ideological divides of race Riggs s homosexuality further complicated the oversimplified determinants of identity His experiences and observations of difference however served as ...

Article

Malaika B. Horne

filmmaker, educator, writer, and gay and civil rights activist. Riggs was born into a military family in Fort Worth, Texas, one of two children of Jean Riggs and Alvin Riggs. He graduated magna cum laude with a bachelor's degree in history from Harvard University in 1978. In 1981 he earned a master's degree in journalism at the University of California, Berkeley. A brilliant documentary filmmaker and scholar, he had a raw aesthetic sensibility that sought to shock and galvanize. The youngest tenured professor in the arts and humanities at the University of California, Berkeley, he taught in the Graduate School of Journalism from 1987 until 1994, the year of his passing.

At age eight Riggs moved with his family to Augusta Georgia Being confronted with racism was not new but an experience in Augusta that denied him recognition for winning a spelling bee had ...

Article

Lawrie Balfour

Reflecting on the death of Marlon Troy Riggs from acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS), cultural theorist Kobena Mercer observed, “Independent cinema lost the voice and vision of an important artist at the very moment that he was coming into his own.” At the time of his death, Riggs was at work on Black Is & Black Ain't. This feature-length film, complete by Riggs's collaborators in 1995, chronicled the variety of American identities seen as black.

Born in Fort Worth, Texas, Riggs grew up in a military family, moving from Texas to Georgia to Germany before returning to the United States to attend Harvard University. As an undergraduate he began to explore connections between black and gay identities. His studies led to a senior thesis on the treatment of male homosexuality in literature. After graduating magna cum laude in 1978 Riggs worked briefly at a Texas television station ...