Newswire : The Schomburg Center acquires Ruby Dee and Ossie Davis’ Archive

Written By NewsOne Staff

Ruby Dee and Ossie Davis

        The legacies of late actors Ruby Dee and Ossie Davis will prevail in Harlem. The Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture at The New York Public Library—a cultural institution that serves as a hub for research and programming surrounding the global Black experience—has acquired the legendary couple’s archive, the New York Public Library reported.
        The couple’s mementos being brought to the Schomburg Center is very fitting as the two spent time living in Harlem. The items that are a part of the collection capture the essence of their social activism efforts and give a glimpse into their marriage. 
        Amongst the items are postcards and letters exchanged between the couple and activist Malcolm X, a greeting card that Coretta Scott King sent to the couple, Ruby Dee’s original script for “A Raisin in the Sun,” footage of Dee and Davis’ television appearances and interviews, correspondence between Dee and Langston Hughes and other items from the couple that are embedded in the fabric of Black culture.
        The Schomburg Center acquired the archive as a part of it’s Home to Harlem project; an effort to capture the stories of impactful Black figures who had an influence in Harlem and beyond. “Ruby Dee and Ossie Davis were pillars of creativity, friendship, and support during the greatest artistic and political movements of our time,” Kevin Young, Director of the Schomburg Center, said in a statement. 
        “Their love for each other and for their closest friends, as well as their commitment to advancing social progress through the arts and advocacy, is reflected in the vastness of this archive. Having their archive home to Harlem will help scholars and researchers tell an even more comprehensive story of the cultural and political evolution of the 20th century. We are privileged to be stewards of the Dee and Davis legacies, and to make them available to the public for study and exploration.”

Coretta Scott King wrote 1986 letter opposing federal court nomination of Jeff Sessions, letter not entered in record at that time by Strom Thurmon

 

By Wesley Lowery , Washington Post

coretta-scott-king

Coretta Scott King

The widow of civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. urged Congress to block the 1986 nomination of Jeff Sessions for federal judge, saying that allowing him to join the federal bench would “irreparably damage the work of my husband,” according to the letter written by King that was previously publicly unavailable and obtained on Tuesday by The Post. The full letter may be read on the Internet.  “Anyone who has used the power of his office as United States Attorney to intimate and chill the free exercise of the ballot by citizens should not be elevated to our courts,” King wrote in the cover page of her 9-page letter opposing Sessions’s nomination, which failed at the time.

“Mr. Sessions has used the awesome powers of his office in a shabby attempt to intimidate and frighten elderly black voters. For this reprehensible conduct, he should not be rewarded with a federal judgeship.”

Thirty years later, Sessions, now himself a senator, is again undergoing confirmation hearings as President-elect Donald Trump’s nominee for attorney general, and is facing fierce opposition from civil rights groups.

In the letter, King writes that Sessions’s ascension to the federal bench “simply cannot be allowed to happen,” arguing that as a U.S. attorney, the Alabama lawmaker persused “politically-motivated voting fraud prosecutions” and that he “lacks the temperament, fairness and judgment to be a federal judge.” She said Sessions’s conduct in prosecuting civil rights leaders in a voting fraud case “raises serious questions about his commitment to the protection of the voting rights of all American citizens.”

“The irony of Mr. Sessions’ nomination is that, if confirmed, he will be given a life tenure for doing with a federal prosecution what the local sheriffs accomplished twenty years ago with clubs and cattle prods,” she wrote, later adding: “I believe his confirmation would have a devastating effect on not only the judicial system in Alabama, but also on the progress we have made toward fulfilling my husband’s dream.”

During the 1986 hearing, the letter and King’s opposition became a crucial part of the argument against Sessions’s confirmation. Current Judiciary Chair Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) has not previously released the letter, which committee rules grant him the sole authority to reveal.

Buzzfeed News first reported the existence of the letter earlier Tuesday, noting that it was never entered into the congressional record by then-Judiciary Committee Chairman Strom Thurmond.