Ossie Davis & Ruby Dee

Ossie & Ruby's Journey Through the 20th & 21st Centuries

Timeline 1903–1939: Part 1 | Part 2 >


W.E.B. Du Bois, a future founding member of the Niagara Movement and co-founder of the NAACP, publishes The Souls of Black Folk.

Alain Locke, the Father of the Harlem Renaissance, becomes the first African American Rhodes scholar.

Vaudeville and Broadway star Bert Williams becomes the first black performer to sign on with the Ziegfield Follies.

Marcus Garvey founds the United Negro Improvement Association.

The Great Migration begins as thousands of African Americans flee the Jim Crow South

Fueled by the runaway success of D.W. Griffith's The Birth of a Nation, the Klu Klux Klan, dormant since 1871, is revived in Stone Mountain, GA.


The U.S. enters World War I. The first black regiment to go, the 369th Infantry (a.k.a. "the Harlem Hellfighters"), led by James Reese Europe, wins accolades from the French for their fighting— and their band introduces jazz to Europe.

A race riot in East St. Louis, IL leaves forty black people dead and drives 6,000 from their homes. In the first major civil rights protest of the century, the NAACP stages a "silent parade" of thousands in Harlem to protest the East St. Louis riot as well as lynching, racial violence, and discrimination across the United States.

December 18 Ossie Davis is born in Cogdell, Georgia to Kince and Laura Davis.

Hear Ossie's birth story

World War I ends.

In what becomes known as "Red Summer," race riots erupt in 26 U.S. cities.

The 19th Amendment is ratified, giving women the right to vote.

In Tulsa, the single worst incidence of racial violence in U.S. history leaves hundreds dead and the thriving black business district of Greenwood in ruins.


Timeline 1903–1939: Part 1 | Part 2 >

Portrait of Alain Locke, courtesy of the Moorland-Spingarn Research Center, Howard University, date unknown

"Folklorist Hurston, who died in 1960, collected these stories in the late 1920s from African Americans in the rural South. ... Hurston replicates the vernacular in which these were told. In this recorded version, Ruby Dee and Ossie Davis perform and are able to include the often sly, often sparkling wit of the original tellers."
— Library Journal