Thursday, June 12, 2014

Ruby Dee, A Queen And A Legend

Ruby Dee, in an uncredited photo from the 1970s.

Omar P.L. Moore/        Follow popcornreel on Twitter FOLLOW                                           
Thursday, June 12, 2014

RUBY DEE captivated me.  She stood far taller than her height.  Her grace, her intelligence, her beauty, her wisdom and her charm spoke volumes.  Her passion for justice, her fervent activism and her down-to-earth way were resounding.  Ruby Dee inspired.  She moved.   

Legends are supposed to live forever.  Even though Ruby Dee passed away late yesterday at the tender age of 91, she will live on.  Forever.

Ruby Dee and Ossie Davis were the perfect couple.  Now they are both together, perfect in a heavenly way.

Ruby Dee had that voice.  That unmistakable voice.  She spoke and you listened.  She inspired.  She inspired ME.

She was a poet, a writer, an actor, a Broadway star, and an honoree many times over. 

"A Raisin In The Sun" was one of Ruby Dee's most memorable roles on the big screen, but I thought her work in Spike Lee's "Do The Right Thing" was just as wonderful.  Her scene with Denzel Washington in "American Gangster", the one where she slapped sense into him, singlehandedly earned Ms. Dee an Oscar nomination.  (I remember some film critics decrying the nomination in 2008.)

It was Ruby Dee's work off screen that was far more impactful and important, though.  I loved that she was committed to bettering the lives of people, particularly the lives of black people.  She and Ossie tried to get more black people in front of and behind the camera in Hollywood.  Ms. Dee worked tirelessly as an activist in the 1950s and '60s Civil Rights Era. 

That work resonated most with me.  Sister Ruby impacted me. 

It's funny how life is.  Just two days ago I was looking at a funeral program I kept from 2005.  It was dated February 5, 2005, the date of services for Ossie Davis in New York City.  I had immediately thought of Ruby Dee.  I had wondered about her, and what she would be doing right now. 

Admittedly, when Maya Angelou passed a few weeks ago I had also thought of Ruby Dee.  It was then I wondered to myself how much longer she would be around.

I was and will be forever grateful for Ruby Dee, and her longevity, and for what she left for America.  What she left we must continue.  To fight the good, principled fight for justice in a cruel world.  She left us fine, invigorating performances in meaningful projects on the big screen, on stage and on the page. 

Ruby Dee never sold herself short.  She was true to her word.  She was true to the cause.

Today's aspiring actors, today's generation, period, need to study up on Ruby Dee.  She was a remarkable lady.  A gentle lady.  A talented lady.

I had the privilege of meeting Ruby Dee and Ossie Davis in New York City in the early 1990s.  They were so kind.  So gracious.  They made me feel as if I was a member of their very own family.  I know that I babbled something incoherent to them.  I don't remember what on earth it was.  

What I do remember is how beautiful and pleasant they were.  How warm Ruby was.  How sincere she was.  How inspiring she was.  "Well, thank you.  You are so kind," I now remember Ruby Dee saying to me, after I must have excitedly thanked her and Ossie one too many times during that meeting.

Looking back all these years later, I don't think I thanked them quite enough.

Ruby Dee was a queen.  A goddess.  An iconic figure.

I felt the warm glow of this dear, loving couple.  Ossie Davis and Ruby Dee were royalty.

Somewhere I have a picture of them that I took.  I cannot find it. 

Ruby Dee means so much to me.  I will miss her so very much.  Few of her stature, integrity and credibility remain. 

Bye, bye, dear sweet, wonderful Ruby.  It was an honor to have met you, to have been touched by you.  Thank you so much for all you have done.  For all of us.  Please say hello to Ossie for me.

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