2014-06-13 / Nation

Ruby Dee’s legacy of activism and acting

NEW YORK (AP) — For Ruby Dee, acting and activism were not contradictory things. They were inseparable and they were intertwined.

The African-American actress who earned lead roles in movies and on Broadway also spent her entire life fighting against injustice, even emceeing the 1963 March on Washington and protesting apartheid in South Africa.

“We are image makers. Why can’t we image makers become peacemakers, too?” she asked after she and her husband Ossie Davis accepted the Screen Actors Guild Award for Lifetime Achievement in 2000.

That legacy of entertaining and pushing for change — in addition to her epic love affair with Davis — made Dee, who died at age 91 in her New Rochelle, New York, home on Wednesday night, a beloved figure in America and beyond. Broadway theaters will dim their lights in her honor tonight.

As a sign of how influential Dee has been to generations of performers, she was thanked twice from the podium at this Sunday’s Tony Awards — by six-time winner Audra McDonald and new Tony winner director Kenny Leon.

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