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

Timeline 1903 – 1939

1910

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

1914

Marcus Garvey founds the United Negro Improvement Association.

1915

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.

1917

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

1918

World War I ends.

1919

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

1920

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

1921

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.

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

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 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.

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.

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