Additional Information on Ossie Davis

* Among the more noteworthy films in which Davis appeared were The Joe Louis Story (1953), Do the Right Thing (1989), Gladiator (1992), Malcolm X (1992), Grumpy Old Men (1993), and Get on The Bus (Spike Lee‘s 1996 celebration of Louis Farrakhan‘s Million Man March).

* In 1998, Davis and Ruby Dee penned their autobiography, With Ossie and Ruby, in which they discussed at length their political activism as well their decision to have an “open marriage.” The pair also collaborated on a number of other publications, including: Every Tongue Got to Confess: Negro Folk-tales From the Gulf States (2001); We Shall Overcome: The History of the Civil Rights Movement As It Happened (2004); and Life Lit by Some Large Vision: Selected Speeches and Writings (2006).

* Eight days after the 9/11 terrorist attacks of 2001, Davis lent his name to a Statement titled “Justice not Vengeance,” which called on the U.S. to eschew a military response, and to instead bring the perpetrators to justice in a courtroom. The Statement read, in part: “We foresee that a military response would not end the terror. Rather, it would spark a cycle of escalating violence, the loss of innocent lives, and new acts of terrorism. As citizens of this great nation, we support the efforts being made to find those behind the acts of terror. Bringing them to justice under the rule of law — not military action — is the way to end the violence…. The laws that protect our civil liberties and freedoms in the United States are part of what define us as a nation. They must not be abridged; to do so would offer victory to those who wrought these vengeful acts.” Other notable signatories to the “Justice not Vengeance” Statement included: Harry Belafonte, John Cavanagh, Medea Benjamin, Barbara Ehrenreich, Mike Farrell, Margaret Gage, Danny Glover, Randy Hayes, Michael Klare, Michael Lerner, Bonnie Raitt, Michael Ratner, Edward Said, Martin Sheen, Gloria Steinem, Cora Weiss, and Ruby Dee.

* Preceding the 2004 presidential election, Davis was a signatory to “Bush Can Be Stopped: A Letter to the Left,” which aimed to prevent the re-election of George W. Bush. The letter stated:

“The Bush Administration … has demolished whatever minimal stability has been achieved in treaties and agreements over the last half century to reduce the threat of nuclear war. It openly seeks world domination through military force and preemptive war … Its arrogant and reckless quest for a new US empire is inflamed by a frightening fundamentalist religious zeal. The Bush Administration is conducting a cruel war on the poor while outrageously lining the pockets of its corporate supporters…. Using its fraudulent ‘war on terrorism’ and playing on the public’s fears after 9/11, the Bush Administration has savaged the rights of immigrants and foreign nationals, has fanned racism, conducted arrests without warrants … and is now preparing an even more repressive Patriot Act II while packing the courts with compliant right-wing ideologues.”

The letter also appealed for the public to support such organizations as MoveOn, US Labor Against War, United for Peace and Justice, and Win Without War. Davis’s fellow signers included Leslie Cagan, Noam Chomsky, Angela Davis, Ruby Dee, Manning Marable, Robert Meeropol, Michael RatnerPete Seeger, and Tim Wise.

* In 2004, Davis and Ruby Dee were co-recipients of the Kennedy Center Honors, an award given annually to performing artists.

* Davis and Dee parented three children: Guy Davis, Nora Day, and Hasna Muhammad.

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