Ossie Davis & Ruby Dee

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

Timeline 1903–1939: < Part 1 | Part 2 • Timeline 1940-1959

1922
October 27
Ruby Ann Wallace is born in Cleveland, Ohio to Edward and Gladys (Hightower) Wallace.

1923
Ossie is sent to live with his grandparents and attend elementary school in Waycross, Georgia. His parents move to Waycross the following year.

Edward Wallace and his second wife, Emma, moves the family to Harlem.

1925
A. Philip Randolph, organizes the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters.

1926
Mordecai Johnson becomes the first black president of Howard University.
 
 
    Langston Hughes publishes The Weary Blues, his first book of poetry.

Carter G. Woodson establishes Negro History Week.

  1929
The Stock Market crashes, signaling the beginning of the Great Depression.

  1931
Nine black youths who become known as the Scottsboro Boys are accused of raping two white women in Alabama.

  1932
Leon J. Davis founds the Pharmacists Union of Greater New York (later Local 1199).

Father Divine moves his Peace Mission movement to Harlem.

1933
Franklin Delano Roosevelt becomes the 32nd President of the United States and implements his New Deal economic program to put Americans back to work.

1934
The Apollo Theater in Harlem opens its doors to African-American audiences.

1935 Ossie hitchhikes from Georgia to Washington, D.C. and enrolls at Howard University.

A riot in Harlem leaves three dead and over one hundred injured.

    1937
Joe Louis becomes the heavyweight boxing champion of the world.

Zora Neale Hurston publishes Their Eyes Were Watching God.
1939
Barred by the Daughters of the American Revolution from performing at Constitution Hall, Marian Anderson sings at the Lincoln Memorial for an audience of 75,000 — including one Ossie Davis.

See film

See Marian Anderson sing at the Lincoln Memorial.


Ossie on hearing Marian Anderson sing at the Lincoln Memorial.


Following the advice of Alain Locke (albeit prematurely), Ossie leaves Howard for Harlem and joins the Rose McClendon Players, where he makes his stage debut in Joy Exceeding Glory, a play about Father Divine.

Hear Ossie on joining the Rose McClendon Players.



Ruby graduates from Hunter High School, enters Hunter College in the fall.


Hattie McDaniel becomes the first African American actor to receive an Academy Award for her role in Gone with the Wind.

Timeline 1903–1939: < Part 1 | Part 2 • Timeline 1940-1959

Mayfair Theatre, 1963.

Did You Know!

Hear Ossie sing
"Hail Britannia."

“The story of Janie Crawford, her strength and gentleness, was written to be heard. Dee’s deep, melodic tones enliven Hurston’s evocative prose and powerful images.”—AudioFile

Actress Hattie McDaniel, 1941
Photo from family photo collection.