While listening to the radio today, I learned of the passing of Ruby Dee, another towering 20th century polymath. Besides her achievements as an actress, writer, and activist on the national stage, Ms Dee and her husband Ossie Davis were pillars of the City of New Rochelle community. As a former resident of New Rochelle, this small-yet-diverse city is dear to my heart. Ossie Davis and Ruby Lee were central to the cultural life of the city, to the extent that the public library has a theater named after Ossie Davis.
My first exposure to Ms Dee's body of work was her performance in the 1961 film production of Lorraine Hansberry's A Raisin in the Sun. After reading the play in 7th grade English class, our teacher showed us the powerful film:
Perhaps Ms Dee's most important role was as an MC at the 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom:
While the nation mourns Ruby Dee, her loss is felt especially keenly in New Rochelle, a city in which she and her husband attended PTA meetings and spoke at assemblies at the local public schools. Thank you, Ms Dee, for your dedication to the people who make up this remarkable community- rest in peace.