From Publishers Weekly
Actor, playwright and civil rights activist Davis passed away in 2005, but this posthumous collection of his writing-including his speeches, essays, eulogies and letters-is a reminder that his legendary voice remains vital. Whether writing about the power of the theatre or the power of the people, Davis was gifted with an ability for remarkable, courageous speech: Calling for a new Constitution in 1968, he said, "Let us sit down and negotiate a peace treaty among ourselves." Davis did not shy away from controversy, be it in defense of the rights of known Communists, or in re-examining the history of African-Americans; writing in 1965, Davis states that "most of the stereotypes we know about Negroes were invented by Negroes for the purposes of survival and social correction." The writer's humor, humility and tremendous inspirational power shine, but suffer from a lack on context. Davis' wife of more than 50 years, the equally renowned actress and activist Ruby Dee, provides commentary at the beginning of most selections, but her notes are often too vague to illuminate Davis' writings properly. Not much elucidation is needed for Davis' eulogy for Malcolm X, perhaps, but subsequent eulogies for less-known figures like actors Godfrey Cambridge and John Randolph could use a biographical sketch. Quibbles aside, this is a great read by a luminous, much-missed American treasure.
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About the Author
appeared in numerous Broadway and Hollywood productions, including I'm Not Rappaport, The Defenders, The Stand, Jungle Fever, Evening Shade,
and The Client.
He was also the author of several plays, teleplays, and children's books. He passed away in February 2005, still active in his work at the age of eighty-seven.Ruby Dee,
midwife to this provocative collection, has enjoyed an illustrious career on stage and in television and film, and she is also an award-winning author. She and Ossie Davis were married for fifty-six years. They have three children and seven grandchildren.