Presented as part of the initiative to establish the Ossie Davis Endowment – which benefits African-American students who follow in Davis' footsteps by demonstrating a commitment to applying their careers as vehicles of activism to assure equal justice and opportunity – the gala evening will feature musical performances and a staged reading of The People of Clarendon County. Davis' widow, Ruby Dee, will again take part in the reading, with guests including Oscar winner Louis Gossett, Jr., Emmy Award winner Alan Alda and Rev. James A. Forbes. A special musical performance by Grammy-nominated musician Odetta will also be part of the gala evening. Additional casting will be announced shortly.
The work depicts the rural community in South Carolina, which served as the battleground of black sharecroppers, domestic workers, laborers and clergymen who joined the NAACP to fight for better schools for black children with their 1951 lawsuit, Briggs v. Elliott. Theirs was the first of five cases that led to the breakthrough 1954 Supreme Court case, Brown v. Board of Education, which outlawed segregation.
The People of Clarendon County was recently presented in a series of staged readings under the direction of Woodie King, Jr. at the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture. Danny Glover, John Amos, Ruben Santiago Hudson, Roscoe Orman, Marie Alice Smith, Barbara Ann Teer, Glenn Turman and Lynn Whitfield appeared in the readings hosted by Ruby Dee.
A cocktail reception will begin at 6 PM with the staged reading commencing at 7 PM. Tickets are available by calling (917) 593-9400 or by visiting www.OssieDavisEndowment.com.
The Martin Luther King, Jr. Labor Center is located at 310 West 43rd Street in Manhattan.