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I won’t be coming to work on the Monday holiday, the day we celebrate MLK, but his actual birthday is January 15.  It was no easy feat to have this national holiday. The following is a chronology, from The King Center website.  Note the date the first legislation was introduced and how long it took to be made a reality.

“Making of  The King Holiday – A Chronology”

  • April 8, 1968 Four days after Dr. King is assassinated, Congressman John Conyers (D-MI) introduces first legislation providing for a Martin Luther King, Jr. Federal Holiday.
  • June 26, 1968 – The Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial Center is founded in Atlanta. The mission is to establish a living memorial to Dr. King, to preserve his papers and promote his teachings. Shortly after, King Center Founder Coretta Scott King, directs the small staff to being planning for the first annual observance of Dr. King’s birthday.
  • January 15, 1969 – The King Center sponsors the first annual observance of Dr. King’s birthday with an ecumenical service and other events and calls for nation-wide commemorations of Dr. King’s birthday. This observance becomes the model for subsequent annual commemorations of Dr. King’s birthday nation-wide, setting the tone of celebration of Dr. King’s life, education in his teachings and nonviolent action to carry forward his unfinished work.
  • April, 1971 – Petitions gathered by SCLC bearing 3 million signatures in support of King Holiday are presented to Congress. But Congress takes no action to move holiday legislation forward.
  • 1973 – First state King Holiday bill (sponsored by then Assemblyman Harold Washington) signed into law in Illinois.
  • 1974 – Massachusetts, Connecticut enact statewide King Holidays.
  • 1975 – New Jersey State Supreme Court rules that state must provide a paid holiday in honor of Dr. King in accordance with the state government’s labor contract with the New Jersey State Employees Association.
  • November 4, 1978 – National Council of Churches calls on Congress to pass King Holiday.
  • February 19, 1979 – Coretta Scott King testifies before the Senate Judiciary Committee hearings in behalf of the King Holiday. She urges Rep. Conyers to bring the holiday bill up for a floor vote in the House of Representatives.
  • March 27, 1979 – Mrs. King testifies before Joint Hearings of Congress in support of King Holiday bill.
  • 1979 – Mrs. King directs King Center staff to begin intensive organizing of a nation-wide citizens lobby for a national Martin Luther King, Jr. Holiday. King Center launches new nationwide King Holiday petition campaign, which is signed by more than 300,000 before end of year. President Carter calls on Congress to pass national King Holiday. The King Holiday bill finally begins to move through Congressional committees.
  • November, 1979 – The Conyers King Holiday bill is defeated in floor vote in U.S. House of Representatives by just 5 votes.
  • 1980 –Stevie Wonder releases “Happy Birthday,” a song celebrating Dr. King and urging a holiday in his honor. It becomes a hit and a rallying cry for the holiday.
  • May 2, 1980 – Coretta Scott King testifies in U.S. House of Representative in support of establishing a National Historic Site in honor of Martin Luther King, Jr.
  • September 11, 1980 – Mrs. King testifies in U.S. Senate in support of establishing a National Historic Site in honor of Martin Luther King, Jr.
  • 1981 – King Center President Coretta Scott King writes to governors, mayors, chairpersons of city council across the U.S., requesting them to pass resolutions and proclamations commemorating the Martin Luther King, Jr.’s birthday and send them to The King Center’s Archives. She asks them to recognize celebrations and programs of observance.
  • February 23, 1982 – Mrs. King testifies in support of the Holiday before the Subcommittee on Census and Population of the House Committee on Post Office and Civil Service.
  • 1982 – The King Center calls for and mobilizes a conference to commemorate and serve as cosponsors of the 19th anniversary of the March on Washington. More than 100 organizations participated. King Center mobilizes coalition to lobby for the holiday. Stevie Wonder funds holiday lobbying office and staff based in Washington, D.C.
  • 1982 – Mrs. King and Stevie Wonder present King Center petitions bearing more than 6 million signatures in support of King Holiday to Tip O’Neil, Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives.
  • June, 1983 – Mrs. King testifies before Congress in behalf of The King Holiday bill again.
  • August, 1983 – The House of Representatives passes King Holiday Bill, providing for the King Holiday to be observed on the third Monday in January. The bill, which is sponsored by Reps. Katie Hall (D.-IN) and Jack Kemp (R-NY), passes by a vote of 338 to 90.
  • August 27, 1983 – King Center convenes the “20th Anniversary March on Washington,” supported by more than 750 organizations. More than 500,000 people attend the March at the Lincoln Memorial, and all of the speakers call on the U.S. Senate and President Reagan to pass the King Holiday.
  • October 19, 1983 – Holiday Bill sponsored by Senator Ted Kennedy (D.-Mass.) passes U.S. Senate by a vote of 78-22.
  • November 3, 1983 – President Reagan signs bill establishing the 3rd Monday of every January as the Martin Luther King, Jr. National Holiday, beginning in 1986.
  • April-May, 1984 – King Center develops legislative proposal to establish the Martin Luther King, Jr. Federal Holiday Commission. Mrs. King meets with leadership of the House and Senate and appeals to Congress to legislate the Martin Luther King, Jr. Federal Holiday Commission. The legislation passes Congress by a voice vote.
  • August 27, 1984 – President Reagan signs legislation providing for the Martin Luther King, Jr. Federal Holiday Commission, to last for a term of five years, with an option to renew for another 5 years.
  • November, 1984 – First meeting of the Martin Luther King, Jr. Federal Holiday Commission. Coretta Scott King is unanimously elected Chairperson
  • January 20, 1986 – First national King Holiday Observed. By this time 17 states had official King holidays. The King Holiday Commissioners are sworn in by federal district Judge Horace Ward.
  • January 16, 1989 – As a result of leadership of the King Holiday Commission, the number of states which enacted a MLK holiday grows to 44.
  • 1990 – The United Auto Workers negotiate contracts with the big three auto companies requiring a paid holiday for all their employees.
  • January 15, 1990 – The Wall St. Journal Reports that only 18 % of 317 corporate employers surveyed by the Bureau of National Affairs provide a paid King Holiday.
  • November 3, 1992 – After a coalition of citizens for an Arizona King Holiday launches successful protest and boycott campaigns, the people of Arizona pass referendum establishing Martin Luther King, Jr. state holiday.
  • January, 1993 – Arizona observes first statewide King Holiday, leaving only New Hampshire without a state holiday in honor of Dr. King.
  • 1994 – Citing Dr. King’s statement that “Everybody can be great because everybody can serve,” Coretta Scott King testifies before Congress in support of making the King Holiday an official national day of humanitarian service.
  • August 23, 1994 – President Clinton signs the Martin Luther King, Jr. Federal Holiday and Service Act, expanding the mission of the holiday as a day of community service, interracial cooperation and youth anti-violence initiatives.
  • 1996 – Martin Luther King, Jr. Federal Holiday Commission concludes mission, transfers responsibility for coordinating nationwide holiday programs and activities to The King Center.
  • 1998 – A Bureau of National Affairs survey of 458 employers found that 26 percent provide a paid holiday for their workers on the King Holiday. The survey found that 33 percent of firms with union contracts provided the paid King Holiday, compared to 22 percent of nonunion shops.
  • June 7, 1999 – Governor Jean Shaheen of New Hampshire signs the King Holiday legislation into law, completing enactment of holiday in all states.
  • October 29, 1999 – U.S. Senate unanimously passes legislation requiring federal institutions to fly the U.S. flag on the Martin Luther King, Jr. Holiday.
  • August 2000 – The King Center’s National Holiday Advisory Committee (replacing the Federal King Holiday Commission) is established to promote the Holiday throughout the 50 states. Each governor of the 50 states is asked to appoint two state representatives to coordinate celebration in their state.
  • Today – The King Holiday is celebrated in U.S. installations and is observed by local groups in more than 100 other nations. Trinidad and other nations have also established a holiday in honor of Dr. King.

The King Holiday should highlight remembrance and celebration and should encourage people everywhere to reflect on the principles of nonviolent social change and racial equality as espoused by Martin Luther King, Jr. It should be a day of community and humanitarian service, and interracial cooperation.

The King Holiday should be a day of which the majority of local and state governments close, and one on which private organizations and the majority of businesses honor Dr. King by encouraging their employees to undertake community service work to address social needs.

The King Holiday should officially and appropriately be observed by the United Nations and its members. Mrs. Coretta Scott King, who severed as Chair, Martin Luther King, Jr., Federal Holiday Commission and Founding President of the Martin Luther King, Jr., Center for Nonviolent Social Change, is quoted as saying:

“As a nation chooses its heroes and heroines, a nation interprets its history and shapes its destiny. The commemoration of the life and work of Martin Luther King, Jr. can help America realize its true destiny as the global model for democracy, economic and social justice, and as the first nonviolent society in human history.”

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Dec 17 2014

Foxy Brown, She-ro

by Hope L

pamI’m not really a Twitter person, but when I joined Twitter and tried to use the doggone thing, I was surprised when a famous person, none other than Pam Grier–yes, THE  Pam Grier of Foxy Brown, Jackie Brown and most recently, The L Word (cable TV series) fame–started following me.

Now, there are probably those of you who have celebrities following your Twitter feed. I, on the other hand, am a complete social media novice, and when Pam Grier’s name popped up–well, I mean, with Foxy and Roger Corman and Richard Pryor and Freddie Prinze and Kareem, oh yeah, and more recently, Jackie Brown and Quentin Tarantino…

Being the Hollywood gadfly that I am, I went and checked out Foxy: My Life in Three Acts, by Pam Grier with Andrea Cagan, from my DCPL branch. It just confirmed what I already knew about Pam Grier/aka Foxy–she is one cool chica.

Now, I had watched her for a few years around the turn of the millennium in Showtime’s The L Word.  And of course a chick like Pam would play a character who could only drive a green vintage late 60’s/early 70’s vehicle (Chevelle? Impala?).  She couldn’t exactly drive around in a Subaru, now, could she?

As Pam explains:

“I had become one of the most recognizable female stars of the blaxploitation genre…  This movement of which I was such a prominent member was shadowing the women’s movement, where women were demanding equal rights to men in art, business, family, and all aspects of life.  My movies featured women claiming the right to fight back, which previously had been out of the question.”

You, GO, Girrrrl!

pam2Yes, the queen of Blaxploitation movies is not only cool, she has had one heckuva life so far. Highlights of her life include enduring and witnessing racial discrimination from all directions, like being in a church choir bus that was shot at in the middle of Watts during the historic riots of 1965;  and, just as she garnered her first job as an actress, meeting and dating the soon-to-be famous college basketball player Ferdinand Lewis Alcindor, Jr. (“Call me Lew” before he changed his name to Kareem Abdul Jabbar); and, upon prodding from Gloria Steinem, appearing on the cover of Ms. Magazine; AND, dating and loving two major comedians who would struggle with drug addiction (Freddie Prinze and Richard Pryor), and on and on.

Pam Grier did many of her own stunts, like riding the stunt horses and popping wheelies on motorcycles. She starred in movies with Paul Newman, Eartha Kitt, and had a role on the blockbuster TV miniseries RootsShe survived both cancer and the entertainment industry.

As I watched Jackie Brown the other night, I rooted for Jackie (Pam). In the end, I knew she would get revenge, the money, and the guy–if she wanted him.

Pam Grier defines the word SHE-RO. Plus, unlike me, she knows how to tweet and use Twitter.

 

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May 29 2013

Mark your calendars!

by Dea Anne M

On September 23 1957, 3 years after the U.S. Supreme Court declared via Brown vs Board of Education that all laws establishing segregated schools were unconstitutional, nine African American students enrolled in Little Rock Central High School in Little Rock, Arkansas. The tumultuous events that preceded and followed this event have become generally known as the Little Rock Integration Crisis. Someone who played a leading role during this time, and in times to come, was Daisy Bates (November 11, 1914 – November 4, 1999). Elected president of the Arkansas branch of the NAACP in 1952, Mrs. Bates, along with her husband L. C. Bates, was a very important figure in the African American community of Little Rock. Their newspaper, the Arkansas State Press, whose first issue appeared on May 9, 1941, was a voice for civil rights well before a nationally recognized movementemerged. Mrs. Bates acted as advisor and guide to the students who became know as the Little Rock Nine.The Bates’ newspaper suffered such a loss of advertising revenue during and after these events that they were forced to stop publishing in 1959 but Mrs. Bates went on to do important work in New York City and Washington DC. In 1988, the reprint of her 1962 memoir The Long Shadow of Little Rock (which was initially banned throughout the South) won a National Bookrock Award.

On Saturday, June 8th, the Stonecrest branch of DCPL will proudly host Janis F. Kearney the author of Daisy: Between a Rock and a Hard Place. Kearney, who was 16 when she met Bates, paints a vivid and compelling picture of a true legend, a woman ahead of her time during a fascinating, and for many dangerous, period of our nation’s history. Ms. Kearney, a highly respected scholar, served as Presidential Diarist to President Bill Clinton from 1995 to 2001 and is the author of the memoir Cotton Field of Dreams which tells of her childhood growing up as one of 17 children born to poor sharecroppers who encouraged their children to succeed through hard work, education and bold dreams. Funding for this very special event is provided by the Friends of the Stonecrest Library and the City of Lithonia and will take place from 2:00 pm to 4:00 pm. Please be sure not to miss this exciting author talk!Little Rock

For more background on Daisy Bates, check out The Power of One: Daisy Bates and the Little Rock Nine by Judith Bloom Fradin and Dennis Brindell Fradin and to learn more about the Little Rock Integration Crisis be sure not miss Turn Away Thy Son: Little Rock, the crisis that rocked the nation by Elizabeth Jacoway

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Feb 6 2013

African food heritage

by Dea Anne M

We all know that February is Black History Month but did you know that during February we also celebrate African Heritage and Health Week? According to Oldways, the nonprofit food and education organization, February 1st – 7th is a time for celebrating African heritage by eating meals inspired by the traditional cooking of Africa, the Caribbean, South America, and the African American South. Numerous studies have shown that traditional diets that emphasize vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and beans help to promote good health. I urge you to visit this very interesting website and learn more about the traditional food of Africa. You’ll find the African Heritage Diet Pyramid, information about African Diaspora cultures, tips on grocery shopping and setting up your kitchen, and my favorite feature “African Heritage Dine-Around-Town.” This is a list (with links) of restaurants in every state that serve African cuisine. Though it is by no means comprehensive (for example, no Ethiopian restaurants make the list for Georgia) it’s still a fun tool for those who want to dine out on African foods.

cuisineAre you interested in exploring African foods in your own kitchen? Check out these resources from DCPL.

Marcus Samuelsson is a world famous chef who was born to Ethiopian parents and adopted by a Swedish couple after the death of his mother. Raised in Sweden, he trained and apprenticed in Europe before coming to New York where he became the youngest chef to receive a three star review from the New York Times. His newest restaurant is Red Rooster in Harlem and his cookbook The Soul of a New Cuisine: a discovery of the foods and flavors of Africa (with Heidi Sacko Walters) was selected as the “Best International Cookbook” by the James Beard Foundation in 2006.

africaAlso take note of:

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Jul 30 2012

Citizen King

by Jnai W

I wish I could do justice to the inspiration of this blog post in this blog post. There isn’t really enough space in this format, there isn’t enough time (as I’m anxious to get back to my reading on this, my inspiration), nor do I have enough words to fully express myself.

This past week or so I’ve been reading several books at once but most of them revolve around the life, the death and the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. The first book that I have been reading that has inspired me to learn more about Dr. King is an incredibly insightful book by Michael Eric Dyson, one of my favorite contemporary writers and thinkers, called April 4, 1968.

In this book, Dyson examines the life, the activism and, most specifically the death of Dr. King.  Dyson writes that King’s understanding of his “calling”, the moral imperative to stand up against injustice, and also King’s sense of his own mortality were driving forces in his Civil Rights leadership. The spectre of suffering and death was ever-present in King’s life: from the violence that marked the Civil Rights movement to the constant threats against his own life. It was his deep belief in the righteousness of the cause and his strong faith in God and in America that sustained him throughout his life in the Movement.

Upon reading this book, I’ve been inspired to return to Dr. King’s sermons, letters and writings for deeper insight into his faith, his philosophy and acts of powerful non-violent demonstration against racial injustice and, increasingly, against poverty and war. The more I read the more I’d come to realize that, though I’d grown up aware of Dr. King’s legacy, there was much that I didn’t know about his life and his work. As a result I’m pouring over a few books featuring the words of Dr. King including A Testament of Hope: The Essential Writings and Speeches of Martin Luther King Jr.

In between studying his words, I’ve also seen an incredible PBS American Experience documentary Citizen King, addressing the last five years of Dr. King’s life. The film, directed by Orlando Bagwell and W. Noland Walker, is a richly-detailed, beautifully-realized exploration of the life and times of King. Citizen King tells the story of King’s work beyond the familiar images of his March on Washington and beyond the well-known words of his “I Have A Dream” speech. The film sheds light on his work in the Poor People’s Campaign, addressing economic injustice and poverty, and also addresses his vocal (and highly controversial) opposition to the Vietnam War.

The aforementioned works reminded me of the impact of Dr. King, a legacy that in my opinion shouldn’t be relegated to one day in January or to the following month of February. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. had a dream. But he also had the conviction, the passion, the courage and the clarity of vision to stand for what he believed in.

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Feb 22 2012

Celebrating African American Women

by Dea Anne M

"Lift Every Voice and Sing" by sculptor Augusta Savage

"Lift Every Voice and Sing" by sculptor Augusta Savage

February is Black History Month and this year the celebration’s special focus has been “Black Women in American Culture and History.”  Though the month is drawing to a close, there’s still time to remember and celebrate some of the very interesting African American women who, though well known, are perhaps less often heralded than others but are, nonetheless, just as important. Here’s an admittedly small sampling:

Bessie Coleman (1893-1926) – the first African American female pilot and the first African American to hold an international pilots license.

Phillis Wheatley (1753-1784) – the first widely known African American poet and the first African American woman to publish her writing.

Harriet Ida Pickins and Frances Willis – the first African American female U.S. Navy officers.

Bridget Mason (1818- 1891) – nurse, midwife, philanthropist and real estate entrepreneur. She was one of the first African Americans, and the first female, to own land in Los Angeles.

Augusta Savage (1892- 1962) – sculptor and highly influential teacher and activist throughout the Harlem Renaissance and beyond. Her sculpture Lift Every Voice and Sing was created for the 1939 New York World’s Fair.

If you want to learn more about these women and others, DCPL has materials available to you.

Kids can do their own research with these (selected) titles:

I’m sure I’ve left out many notable women. Who would you add to the list?

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Feb 10 2012

Stories for African American History Month

by Patricia D

I think history is best taught through stories. Facts and dates are fine for knowing, but it is through story that we can best come to a deeper understanding of what those facts and dates mean. I think that’s why genealogy is such an addictive hobby—the facts are easier than ever to track down with all the tools available on the Internet (sites such as  Heritage Quest, Ancestry and Rootsweb) but it takes going to the place, finding the people who know the stories that go with those facts, for the facts to matter—at least that’s how it works for me. In honor of the month, I’ve pulled together a list of children’s titles that I think give heart and that deeper understanding to various points of African American history.  Most of these are picture books, a few are novels. This list is by no means comprehensive, just some things I’ve loved over the years.   The DCPL collection is loaded with lots of wonderful non-fiction for children, as well as for adults,  so once you’ve cruised through my list, type  “African americans literature” in the keyword search section of the catalog and browse the collection.  Don’t forget to use the word juvenile in the keyword search to narrow the selection down to children’s materials.

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Jan 13 2012

Dreams in January

by Patricia D

We’re coming up on a three day weekend and I’m telling you, after the frenzy of the past month I’m ready for a little extra rest.  As grateful as I am for the breather though, I believe that Memorial Day and Labor Day should be more than just bookends for the summer and I don’t want MLK Day to become just a rest stop after the holidays.

Perhaps the best known of Martin Luther King, Jr.’s speeches is the one he delivered on what was surely a stifling, muggy day in Washington, D.C. in 1963.   Much like a chorus singing Handel in a food court gave a gift to those around them, he delivered a gift to his country on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial.  This speech is not the first of his writings—it may not even be considered to be his finest work by some—but for me, it best sums up not only the sacrifice and work that went into the Civil Rights movement but also the hopes I still have for us as a country.  Some of it is a little painful to read, even for an adult, but I think if you track down a copy of the picture book I Have A Dream you’ll find that the best of it is easily available to a child, illustrated by 15 artists of staggering talent.  If you haven’t read the entire thing, you’ll find the full text there as well.

I’m not going to make a list of the biographies, collections of his writings and the histories of the civil rights movement in the collection  (the list would be long indeed) but I am going to encourage you to take a look at the catalog and pick out a few things to remind you that this isn’t just a three day weekend coming up.

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Nov 2 2011

40 acres…

by Dea Anne M

This year marks the sesquicentennial, i.e. 150th anniversary, of the onset of the United States Civil War and the Stonecrest branch of DCPL will be hosting a special event to help mark this very important period in American history. On Saturday, November 5th at 12:00 pm the exhibit Forty Acres and More: African Americans and the Civil War will open at Stonecrest with a reception and the unveiling of the exhibit. The exhibit is an impressive collection of documents, pictures, newspapers, and other historic items collected by local historian and former NBA player Mike Glenn and documents the African American presence and participation in the Civil War.  Documents include minutes from the Philadelphia Negro Convention of 1833 and Fredrick Douglass’ speech “Men of Color to Arms.” You’ll find more information at the Mike Glenn Foundation (www.mikeglenn.com) but be sure not to miss this important exhibit!

Are you interested in learning more about the presence and influence of African Americans in the Civil War? Check out these resources at DCPL.

Firebrand of Liberty: the story of two Black regiments that changed the course of the Civil War by Stephen V. Ash tells the story of the seizure of Jacksonville in 1863 by nine hundred African American Union soldiers. Although the mission was deemed a failure at the time, the regiments’  success in holding off the Confederate forces was part of what persuaded Lincoln to begin full-scale recruitment of Black troops, a measure which almost certainly changed the course of the war.

The well-received  Like Men of War: Black troops in the Civil War by Noah Andre Trudeau uses original source material and a unique narrative style to tell the intimate stories of the thousands of brave and determined men who took up arms.

Did you know that as many as one in six Union navy sailors was African American? Slaves, Soldiers, Citizens: African Americans in the Union Navy by Steven Ramold pulls from diaries, court documents and other source material to document the enormous contribution that African Americans made to the naval effort. This book also features rare photographs of the daily lives of these sailors.

Young history buffs will also want to research this interesting topic. Till Victory is Won: black soldiers in the Civil War by Zak Mettger and Black, Blue, and Gray: African Americans in the Civil War by Jim Haskins are two good sources.

… and for a night at home with a DVD, please consider Glory starring Morgan Freeman, Cary Elwes, Denzel Washington, and Matthew Broderick. The film was nominated for many major awards and won Oscars for Best Cinematography and Best Sound. As well, Denzel Washington won both an Oscar and a Golden Globe for his stirring performance as Private Trip. Not to be missed!

 

 

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Dec 18 2009

Celebrating the Birth of two Georgians

by Amanda L

Today is the anniversary of the birth for two famous Georgians.  These two men made an impact in their respective fields. I knew the first one, Ty Cobb, was from Georgia but I was surprised that Ossie Davis was from Georgia.

Ty Cobb made his impact on the baseball world.  He was born in 1886 in Narrows, Georgia. He was known as the “Georgia Peach” and was considered an outstanding offensive player of all time.  He played for Augusta in the minor South Atlantic League. He set many Major League records. Several are still intact today.  Ty Cobb  was the first man elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame which was established in Cooperstown, Ohio in 1936.

Want to learn more about Ty Cobb? Check out these books.

Ty Cobb by Charles C Alexander

Cobb_A biography Cobb: a biography by Al Stump

Ossie Davis made an impact in films. He was born in Cogdell Georgia in 1917.  He was known as one of the busiest African-American Entertainers in the 1970’s.  In his career he wrote plays and books. He was a director, playwright and producer. He co-starred in a radio program with his wife in the mid-1970’s.

Want to learn more or see some of Ossie Davis’s work? Check out the following.

Black Directors in Hollywood by Melvin Donaldson

Finding Buck McHenry

Miss Ever’s boys

Ossie With Ossie Davis and Ruby: in this life together

Ossie pic book Just Like Martin by Ossie Davis

Want more information about these gentleman but can’t get into a library? You can use the Library’s electronic resource, Biography Resource Center. This resource along with other electronic resources can be found on our Reference Database page.

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