Ruby Dee: How Racism Has Trampled Black Self-Esteem And Numbed Hope

by / June 16, 2014 video 5 Comments

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The legendary actress and activist Ruby Dee passed away on June 11, 2004 at the age of 91.  Dee was born in 1924 in Cleveland, Ohio, and raised in Harlem. Throughout her life, she was forced to deal with the hardships of segregation and inequality, but she did so with a sense of grace, grit, and courage that few others have.

During a time when many African-American women were relegated to being second-class citizens both in life and in theater and Hollywood, Dee forged a path for all black women, not just as an actress, but also as a poet, activist, playwright, screenwriter, and journalist.

Although her Hollywood career spanned seven decades and earned her multiple awards, Dee’s role as an activist was just as significant.  Dee’s activist work began at age 11, when she spoke at a rally held for her music teacher who had committed suicide in response to losing her job as a result of funding cuts.

Over the years, Dee served as a member of the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE), the NAACP, the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC).  Dee delivered a stirring reading at Marin Luther King Jr’s March on Washington in 1963.  She also emceed the event.

Dee and her husband Ossie Davis were close friends of Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X, and Davis gave the eulogy at Malcolm X’s funeral in 1965.  The pair were arrested in 1999 for protesting the police shooting of the unarmed Amadou Diallo.  In November 2005, Dee and Davis were awarded the National Civil Rights Museum’s Lifetime Achievement Freedom Award.

The following clip is from a two-hour special Dee completed with her husband Ossie Davis with Bill Moyer in 1984.  The special was called The Second American Revolution and focused on the civil rights movement.  In the clip, Dee discusses the ongoing racism that “has trampled” the self-esteem of black people and “numbed (their) hope.”  Watch below to see what she has to say.

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5 Comment

  1. 30 years and nothing has changed. Should we keep waiting??????

    The verdict has been read,not guilty and the judge says your free to go.Justice was not served.So I need to say I "Understand" angry Black man & Black woman.I "Understand" angry Black youth & young adults.I "Understand" being classified sub-human by racist.I "Understand" the emotional turmoil and hopeless mindset.I "Understand" that our spirit as a people has been broken.I "Understand" that right now we have tunnel vision.I "Understand" we are afraid for our children and ourselves.I "Understand" wanting an eye for eye.I "Understand" that our children being targeted by design. I "Understand" how we're being sent into desperation mode.I "Understand" why our status in society is at the bottom.I "Understand" how and why whole Black families have turned into single parent homes.I "Understand" no jobs for Blackmen. I "Understand" the rage inside.I "Understand guns being flooded in to Black communities,so that our children will continue to kill each other.You see in order to be understood,I have to first "Understand".Understanding is something many people don't have.Those we expect to "Understand" rarely do.I "Understand" the mindset of always the victim.It gets so bad that victims start to victimize others who believe they're always victims too.I "Understand". Black youth & young adults believing their lives are not worth anything,cause that's what they've been witnessing in today's society.I "Understand".Black leaders,Activist,Advocates & Clergy who are trying to gather the masses,the struggles and frustration in convincing a people who have been broken spiritually,mentally,physically & financially.That there's still "Hope".I "Understand".Black America is reeling from economic woes.Prisons & graveyards being filled with Blackmen.I "Understand".Parents burying their children and the killer is still on the loose,or when the killer is found not guilty,asking God for strength.Some even asking God why.I "Understand".I say this,Black people are a resilient race. We've come from slavery,fought for civil rights.Black people helped build America,we now live in the White House.Black people we are being distracted from accomplishing more in America,by those who know we can.Their tactics are obvious. Black people we are Americans,the American dream is still alive for us.There's somethings we have to do differently first.Accountability & Unity followed by a spiritual remix,education & economic empowerment.This is not going happen over night,still Black America must begin to do something different. We've come from the cotton fields to the White House.Let's not give up on ourselves,we can't afford to.You see I remember as little boy,being told by my elders because of the color of my skin.I was going to have to go the extra mile to succeed in America.At the time I didn't "Understand",today I do.Know that there is hope for us Black people,inspite of trials & tribulations.God has got our backs.For those of us who have lost faith.I "UNDERSTAND"!………………No Violence-Know Peace

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