The Coalition of Theatres of Color, a non-profit theatre arts organization that includes the Paul Robeson Theatre of Fort Greene and The Billie Holiday Theatre of Bed-Stuy, honored living legend Dr. Ruby Dee yesterday afternoon at a reception at Restoration Plaza.
Ruby Dee, an Oscar-nominated, Emmy Award-winning actress and writer was saluted for her enormous impact as an actress and her longstanding work for social justice.
Ms. Dee founded the Coalition of Theatres of Color with her husband Ossie Davis in 2004 to unify low-budget minority theatres in New York State. The Coaltion meets once a month to discuss common administrative issues such as budgets, space and advertising.
"We are saluting Ms. Dee for her monumental impact as an artist and her tenacious vocal advocacy on behalf of the theatrical community," said Marjorie Moon, executive director of the Billie Holiday Theatre, who hosted the tribute.
Moon hosted the afternoon luncheon, acclaimed poet Sonia Sanchez presented a special poem dedicated to Ruby Dee and actress-singer Ebony JoAnn performed with her trio. Artist Otto Neal presented a painting, and Reverend Johnny Ray Youngblood of Mt. Pisgah Baptist Church offered a prayer.
"Ruby has been a supporter and beloved friend of me and my family for [many] years," said 94-year-old Esther Cooper Jackson. She has known Ruby Dee since Ruby was in Hunter College and while Jackson was attending Oberlin College.
"During the McCarthy era, when people in the theatre were under indictments; when Paul Robeson lost his passport, when the great W.E.B. DuBoise had handcuffs put on him and was almost sent to prison, we were among the people who fought for their freedom."
Representatives from the offices of Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz, Congressman Ed Towns, State Senator Velmanette Montgomery, Assemblymember Annette Robinson and Councilman Al Vann, each presented proclamations heralding Ms. Dee's career as an actress, as well as her tenacious advocacy for human and civil rights on behalf of the theatrical community. Dr. Ruby Dee has forever influenced the lives and careers of women worldwide.