Street Naming(s) Honoring Ruby Dee & Ossie Davis

Front row L-R:  Cliff Frazier, Ossie Davis and Ruby Dee with alumni from programs they pioneered and spearheaded in the '70s.

The Dwyer Cultural Center Honors Ruby Dee & Ossie Davis with Harlem Street Naming: 
 Ruby Dee Place and Ossie Davis Way 

In keeping with The Dwyer’s distinction of showcasing Harlem’s history, on Saturday, April 20th, 2019, it will host the ceremonial unveiling of 'Ruby Dee Place' and 'Ossie Davis Way' (the northeast corner of 123rdand Saint Nicholas Avenue). 

The Dwyer’s Founder, Cliff Frazier, was a long-time friend of the late Ruby Dee and Ossie Davis, and together they developed groundbreaking programs to benefit people of color working in a myriad of disciplines within the arts.“Three years ago, our Executive Director, Minerva Diaz came to me with an idea about the street naming(s) to honor my dear friends. And after a long and tedious process she got it done in late 2018!” said Frazier.  

On 4/20/19 The Dwyer will open its gallery to the public from 11am-2pm to view an exhibit dedicated to Ruby Dee and Ossie Davis.  Also, on display will be numerous storyboards related to the work of Cliff Frazier, Ruby Dee, Ossie Davis and countless others who took part in the implementation of workshops focused on the empowerment of artists of color. The public will also have the opportunity to participate in a community mosaic mural organized by "Art Force 5".  The official ceremonial street naming(s) will take place at 2:15 pm.

Ruby Dee and Ossie Davis’ Connection to Harlem

As an infant ruby’s parents moved to Harlem from Cleveland, Ohio.  She graduated from highly competitive Hunter High School in 1939 and enrolled at Hunter College. In 1940 she got a part in a Harlem production of a new play, On Strivers Row, which she later called "one giant step" to becoming a person and a performer.  The rest is well-documented history.

In the 1970s Ruby and Ossie were instrumental in the development of the Community Film Workshop Council (CFWC), Third World Cinema (TWC) and the Institute of New Cinema Artists (INCA) along with Cliff Frazier and many other notables like Sidney Poitier and Harry Belafonte.  All parties involved had one goal, fair practices, etc., for people of color within the arts community.  Moreover, many are still direct beneficiaries of their work.

Also, both Ruby and Ossie had a long relationship with the Schomburg.  Each we're involved with Schomburg before they even met each other.  Ruby performed at the American Negro Theatre, then located at the 135th Street Branch, now the Schomburg Center.  As a young man, Ossie spent a great deal of time at the Schomburg studying as book purchases were often a hardship. Today the Dee-Davis archives can be found at Schomburg for public view.

Call To Action

The Dwyer needs your help.  To successfully fund this event, we need to raise $5,000. With your monetary assistance, we will be able to cover the expenses for the program, equipment rental, the community mosaic mural, the costs associated with the visual art exhibition and film festival honoring the legendary couple scheduled for 3 consecutive Wednesdays 4/24/19, 5/1/19, and 5/8/19 :  Black Girl, Cotton Comes to Harlem, and Buck and the Preacher. We're asking all of you reading this as well as local banks, venues and businesses to help The Dwyer make this event a great success! All donations would be greatly appreciated. 

This will be a huge celebration that will honor the work of Ruby Dee, Ossie Davis and Cliff Frazier that worked tirelessly and unselfishly to create change! 

The Dwyer Cultural Center

The Dwyer Cultural Center is a not-for-profit organization (501 c3) located in Harlem, New York. Since opening its doors in June of 2009, The Dwyer has attracted thousands of visitors from all corners of the world to its exquisite visual art exhibitions, readings, writers' workshops, children's educational programs, and music/theater performances—all free or at a minimal cost.

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Minerva Diaz 
New York, NY
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