Dee, a renowned activist and an acclaimed actress on both stage and screen, died in her New Rochelle home last summer. Her work spanned more than 50 years, from when she starred in “The Jackie Robinson Story” in 1950 to the Denzel Washington-driven “American Gangster” less than a decade ago.
The actress and her husband, playwright/actor Ossie Davis, were constantly raising social consciousness for the disenfranchised. In 1963, they served as masters of ceremony at the March on Washington and were awarded the Presidential Medial for Lifetime Achievement in the Arts in 1995.
Less than a year ago, the park – which is owned by Westchester County – received unanimous approval to for renaming by the Board of Legislators. The unveiling of the sign comes less than three weeks before what would have been Dee’s 93rd birthday on Oct. 27.
In his speech announcing the renaming of the park last October, New Rochelle Mayor Noam Bramson said it wasn’t what Dee did on the screen or in the streets that made her special to the city, but how important she was to the community.
“She was not simply a resident of this community. She was a pillar of this community, a builder of this community who worked to ensure that the same values she championed all across our country were expressed fully here in the place she called home,” he said.
In a statement, Dee’s family praised New Rochelle officials and announced that they will be on hand this weekend for the rededication, which will be held at 3 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 10 at Ruby Dee Park at the Library Green. They expressed pleasure that both Dee and her husband will be commemorated next to each other through the library.
“We are pleased and honored that the life and contributions of our beloved mother-grandmother-sister-aunt Ruby will be inscribed in the historical memory of New Rochelle, among the neighbors and friends she loved for more than 51 years,” they said in the joint message. “How fitting that the Ruby Dee Park is adjacent to the Ossie Davis Theater. Together forever.
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