Oscar-nominated portrait of James Baldwin uses author’s words to bridge civil-rights past with our racially incendiary present
The history of America is the history of the Negro in America. And it’s not a pretty picture.” These words were written by James Baldwin, the African-American novelist, essayist, playwright, poet, and fierce social critic. When the man of letters died in 1987, he had finished only 30 pages of what would have been his magnum opus, Remember This House, consisting of tales torn from the lives and murders of three of Baldwin’s closest friends: the civil-rights pioneers Medgar Evers, Malcolm X and Martin Luther King, Jr.
The book never happened, but the movie I Am Not Your Negro, directed by the Haiti-born filmmaker and activist Raoul Peck using Baldwin’s own words, is alive and kicking ass. Nominated for an Academy Award as the year’s best documentary, this chronicle of a long, hard (and ongoing) struggle will compete with two other probing docs about race in America – Ava DuVernay’s 13th and Ezra Edelman’s mammoth, seven-hour OJ: Made in America. Peck’s film stands tall even in that distinguished company. It’s unmissable and unforgettable.
Ruby Dee 1922-2014
Actress Ruby Dee died on Wednesday at her home in New Rochelle, surrounded by all her children and ground children. She was 91 years old.
She achieved her breakout role in 1959 opposite Sidney Poitier in the Broadway drama, “A Raisin in the Sun” . . . roles they reprised two years later on film.
A Raisin in the Sun was the first play written by a then 29 year-old black woman Lorraine Hansberry to be produced on Broadway, as well as the first play with a black director (Lloyd Richards) on Broadway.
Ossie Davis & Ruby Dee
Born in Cleveland she considered herself a native New Yorker as she was raised in Harlem.
Her career as an actress paralleled her work as an activist, often done with husband of 57 years Ossie Davis at her side until his death in 2005. She and Davis were close friends with both Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X, whose eulogy Davis gave in 1965 — two years after Dee delivered a stirring reading at King’s March on Washington.
After her husband’s death, Ruby carried on, winning an Oscar nomination for her role in the 2007 film, “American Gangster.”
Broadway theaters dimmed their lights briefly Friday night to honor the memory of one of their best.
Important collaboration was OFF screen, where they were life-long leaders of the civil rights movement, including the 1963 march on Washington.
Malcolm X and his grandson
A troubled child or next Malcolm X?
The First Male Heir of Malcolm X
For most of her life, Qubilah Shabazz the second of Malcolm X’s six daughters has refused to discuss Malcolm X, avoiding talk of his death with friends and even concealing her own blood lines. But when her baby was born in 1984, the son of an Algerian man she had met in Paris, she named the boy after her father, who was assassinated on Feb. 21, 1965, when she was 4 years old.
Qubilah, Malcolm and Attallah
Malcolm Latif Shabazz, moved to the United States with his mother when he was 3 or 4 and lived in California. Malcolm is the first male heir of Malcolm X.
After moved back to the U.S. they were moving around a lot, living in such places as Los Angeles and Brooklyn. His mother drank and she would be asleep and he would be unsupervised. Even though she was educated at Princeton and Sorbonne she took odd jobs at places like Denny’s and IHOP to earn enough to get by.