Ruby Dee’s acting career has spanned more than fifty years and has included theater, radio, television, and movies. She has also been active in the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC), and the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE).
Ruby Dee was born Ruby Ann Wallace on October 27, 1924, in Cleveland, Ohio. Her parents, Marshall and Emma Wallace, moved the family to Harlem in New York City when Dee was just a baby. In the evening Dee, her two sisters, and her brotherÂ read aloud to each other from the poetry of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1807â€“1882), William Wordsworth (1770â€“1850), and Paul Laurence Dunbar (1872â€“1906). As a teenager Dee submitted poetry to the New York Amsterdam News, a black weekly newspaper. Later in life, Dee admitted that during those years she was a shy girl but that she always felt a burning desire to express herself.Â Continue reading
Plaintiff for a landmark Supreme Court case, Homer A. Plessy was born on March 17, 1863 in New Orleans. He was a light-skinned Creole of Color during the post-reconstruction years.
With the aid of the ComitÃ© des Citoyens, a black organization in New Orleans, Homer Plessy became the plaintiff in the famousÂ Plessy v. FergusonÂ case decided by the U.S. Supreme Court in May 1896. The decision established the “separate but equal” policy that made racial segregation constitutional for the next six decades.
In order to challenge the 1890 Louisiana statute requiring separate accommodations for whites and blacks, Homer Plessy and the ComitÃ© des Citoyens used Plessy’s light skin to their advantage. On June 7, 1892 Plessy bought a first class ticket on the East Louisiana Railway. Continue reading
Mary Church was born in Memphis, Tennessee, on 23rd September, 1863. Both her parents, Robert Church and Louisa Ayers, were both former slaves. Robert was the son of his white master, Charles Church.
During the Memphis race riots in 1866 Mary’s father was shot in the head and left for dead. He survived the attack and eventually became a successful businessman. He speculated in the property market and was considered to be the wealthiest black man in the South.
Mary was an outstanding student and after graduating from Oberlin College, Ohio, in 1884, she taught at a black secondary school in Washington and at Wilberforce College in Ohio. Through her father, Mary met Frederick Douglass and Booker T. Washington. She was especially close to Douglass and worked with him on several civil rights campaigns.Â Continue reading
Roy WilkinsÂ (August 30, 1901 – September 8, 1981) was a prominent civil rights activist in the United States from the 1930s to the 1970s. Wilkins was active in the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) and between 1931 and 1934 was assistant NAACP secretary under Walter Francis White. When W. E. B. Du Bois left the organization in 1934, Wilkins replaced him as editor of Crisis, the official magazine of the NAACP.
Roy Wilkins was born in St. Louis, Missouri. He grew up in the home of his aunt and uncle in a low-income, integrated community in St. Paul, Minnesota. Working his way through college at the University of Minnesota, Wilkins graduated from the University of Minnesota with a degree in sociology in 1923. Â Continue reading