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Actress And Activist Ruby Dee Dead At 91

Dee began acting in movies in the 1940s and is widely known for her as Ruth Younger in A Raisin in the Sun, and her roles in many Spike Lee films. Off screen, she was a champion of Civil Rights in America, speaking out along with her husband, the late actor Ossie Davis.

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Dee's cinematic career began in 1946 when she appeared in the musical That Man Of Mine. Later in her career, she took on the iconic roles of Ruth Younger in A Raisin in the Sun and Mama Lucas in American Gangster.


They were also fiercely outspoken activists during the Civil Rights Movement.

Timothy Norris / Getty Images

Dee was a member of several noted civil rights organizations, including the SCLC, the NAACP, SNCC, and CORE. Both she and Ossie Davis worked closely with Martin Luther King and Malcolm X, who was famously eulogized by Davis at his funeral.

Throughout her life, Dee was lauded and awarded for her accomplishments both on and off screen.

Frazer Harrison / Getty Images

For her work on the small screen, the silver screen, and in animation, Dee won or was nominated for a plethora of awards, including Emmys, Grammys, SAG Awards, and Image Awards.

For their efforts in furthering the cause of civil rights, she and her late husband were awarded the National Medal of Arts in 1995, and the Lifetime Achievement Freedom Award by the National Civil Rights Museum in Memphis, where Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., led his famous sanitation workers' strike and was later assassinated. She was awarded an honorary degree from Princeton ins 2009.

If I could be — somebody could think of me and feel encouraged, I'd like to be remembered as — is in those little flashes of moments, I think, that we remember each other that pick us up from some moments of despair. That's how I'd like to be remembered, in the recollection to make the moment more bearable, if not enjoyable.

Thirty-something from Louisville, KY. Made of bourbon and awesome.

Contact Tracy Clayton at

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