actor, athlete, singer, and producer, was born in Newark, New Jersey, to Annabelle Patricia West and John Allen Amos Sr., a self-taught diesel auto mechanic and tractor trailer driver. Shortly after his second birthday, the family moved to East Orange, New Jersey, where they lived while John Sr. served in the military during World War II. His father left after the war, and his mother struggled to support her family by working as a domestic and then as a certified dietician. Amos recalled that, “the only time [he] ever saw his mother concede to possible failure was one time when she could not find any food in the cupboards. She had to ask him to go to the next-door neighbor to borrow food” (interview with John Amos by the author, 2010 Amos first joined the Metropolitan Baptist Church in Newark New Jersey at about ...
Born in Brooklyn, New York, St. Clair Bourne is the son of St. Clair Bourne Sr., who was an editor of the Amsterdam News and a reporter for the People's Voice in the 1930s. Although the younger Bourne began his education at Georgetown University in 1961, he was expelled for student activism. In 1967 he received a B.A. degree from Syracuse University after working with the Peace Corps. He began a degree in filmmaking at Columbia University in 1968, but was again asked to leave because of his political activities.
From 1968 until 1970 Bourne was a producer, writer, and director for the public-television series Black Journal. He established his own company, Chamba Productions, and produced African American documentary films such as Something to Build On (1971) and Let the Church Say Amen! (1973). In 1974 he received the Bronze ...
Ruby Dee was born Ruby Ann Wallace in Cleveland, Ohio. Her father, Marshall Edward Wallace, was a porter and waiter on the Pennsylvania Railroad; her mother, Emma Wallace, was a schoolteacher. They moved to Harlem in New York City when Ruby was a baby. She was educated at Public School 119 and Hunter College, and her formal education was supplemented by instruction in classical literature and music at home. Although asked to leave Hunter College when her activities at the American Negro Theater—a Harlem group which also included Hilda Simms, Harry Belafonte, and Sidney Poitier—took up too much of her energy and time, Dee graduated in 1945 with a bachelor's degree in French and Spanish. She worked briefly as a translator for an import company, but her extracurricular activities soon became her career.
Dee s work has run the gamut of entertainment media ...
Samuel A. Hay
actress and writer, was born Ruby Ann Wallace in Cleveland, Ohio, the third of four children of teenage parents, Gladys Hightower and Edward Nathaniel Wallace, a Pullman car porter. After Gladys ran off to follow a preacher, the couple divorced in 1924, and Edward married Emma Amelia Benson, a former schoolteacher, who lived in New York City. Emma, whom Ruby called “Mother,” reared the Wallace children in Harlem, New York, where family lessons included picketing white-owned Harlem businesses that refused to hire African Americans.
Ruby graduated from Hunter College High School in 1939 and entered Hunter College, in New York City. Her professional theater career began in 1940 during her sophomore year, when the writer and director Abram Hill cast her in his social satire, On Strivers Row (1940) at the American Negro Theater (ANT), which he had cofounded with Frederick Douglass O'Neal ...
Hilary Mac Austin
A true Renaissance woman—poet, writer, director, adaptor, actor, activist, philanthropist, wife and mother—Ruby Dee summed up her approach to life in I Dream a World: Portraits of Black Women Who Changed America: “You just try to do everything that comes up. Get up an hour earlier, stay up an hour later, make the time. Then you look back and say, ‘Well, that was a neat piece of juggling there—school, marriage, babies, career.’ The enthusiasms took me through the action, not the measuring of it or the reasonableness.”
Jason Philip Miller
actor and comedian, was born Paul Gadney in Shreveport, Louisiana, to George Gadney and LaVoya Ealy. When he was seven, his family relocated to Oakland, California, and there Mooney spent the remainder of his childhood. His father was not a stable figure in his life, and soon disappeared altogether. Throughout his youth, Mooney was closest to his grandmother, Aimay Ealy. It was she who gave him the nickname “Mooney,” though Mooney himself later claimed that she never bothered to explain what it meant. However, the name stuck, and, perhaps eager to relieve himself of his father's name, Mooney adopted it as his professional moniker. While in his teens, Mooney dropped out of school and left home to join the tiny Charles Gody Circus working in various roles until he was promoted to ringmaster According to Mooney himself this made him the first black ringmaster in the ...
was born in Brooklyn, New York to Ruby Nottage, a child psychologist, and Wallace Nottage, a schoolteacher. She describes her parents as “black bohemian folks” since her childhood home was often visited by artists, writers, and musicians (Iqbal). Her mother and maternal grandmother, who was from the Barbados, both worked in support of civil rights and women’s rights, ultimately serving as sources of inspiration for Nottage and her work.
Nottage attended St. Ann’s School in Brooklyn and the High School of Music and Art in Manhattan, where she also studied piano, graduating in 1982. Following her graduation from Brown University in 1986 and the Yale School of Drama in 1989, Nottage went to work for Amnesty International as its national press officer until resigning in 1993 to pursue a full time career in writing Her interest in writing began at age eight when she was motivated by ...