Manhattanville Reid Castle In the Spring

In Memory of Ruby Dee

Ruby Dee

Manhattanville College is saddened by the passing of actress and activist Ruby Dee. She and her late husband Ossie Davis received Honorary Doctorate degrees from the College in 1987.

Two members of Manhattanville’s Board of Trustees, Paula Zilka Colbert and James C. Ram, both graduated the year Dee and Davis were honored by the College and remember the day fondly.

“I remember Ruby Dee and Ossie Davis like it was yesterday. Instead of giving a traditional graduation speech they sang to us,” Ram said, “I was blown away, not only by their musical talent but by their conviction and soul. To watch them together was like watching great theater, and yet being inspired.”

“Watching them onstage at graduation was like watching a Broadway play.  Their talent was mesmerizing, making my graduation one of the most memorable moments of my life,” Colbert said, “I will never forget that day and I feel blessed to have witnessed such a special ceremony.”

As an actress her film credits include “A Raisin in the Sun,” “Do the Right Thing,” and “American Gangster.” She received an Oscar nomination in 2008 for Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role for her part in “American Gangster,” and in 2004 she and Davis were recipients of the Kennedy Center Honors.

Dee and Davis were heavily involved in the civil rights movement and were considered friends of Martin Luther King, Jr., and Malcolm X. She also worked on behalf of many organizations including the NAACP, and the Urban League.