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Remembering Ruby Dee: Soror Ruby Dee, the critically acclaimed and award-winning actress, activist and hon-orary member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc., was born in Cleveland, Ohio in 1922. She made her transition into the Omega Omega Chapter July 11, 2014 at her home in New Rochelle, New York. She was 91. Dee made several appearances on Broadway before receiving national recognition for her role in the 1950 film, “The Jackie Robinson Story.” Dee was most famous for her iconic roles in films such as “Roots,” “A Raisin the Sun,” “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings,” “Purlie Victorious,” and “Do the Right Thing.” Dee was the first black woman to appear in major roles at the American Shakespeare Festival, in Stratford, Conn. In the earlier years of her career and while African-American actors/actresses were struggling to find their bearings in the entertainment industry, Dee would often picket and refuse to perform in the-atres denying African-American patrons admittance. Personal friends of both Martin Luther King, Jr. and Malcolm X, she and her husband, Ossie Davis, served as emcees at one of the most defining moments of the civil rights movement—the 1963 March on Washing-ton. Dee was also an active member of the Congress of Racial Equality, the Student Nonviolent Coordinating FROM T H E D ELTA A RCHIV ES Madree Penn White was born November 21, 1892 in Atchison, Kansas. She grew up with her parents, John and Mattie Penn and siblings, Elijah, Marshall, Noel, Jenny and William in Omaha, Nebraska. Delta Newsletter SPRING 2015 • 35 Madree Penn graduated in 1909 with honors from Central High School in Omaha, Nebraska. She turned down scholarships to the University of Iowa and the University of Nebraska to attend Howard University in Washington, DC. She was the first female editor of the Howard Journal, the campus newspaper. She was a member of the Classical Club, president of the campus chapter of the YWCA, vice-president of the student branch of the NAACP, vice-president of the Social Science Club, and class journalist, vice-pres-ident, and treasurer of her class during her years at Howard. Madree Penn graduated Cum Laude in 1914. Of her graduating class, she was voted “Most Popular” and came in third for “Who Has Done the Most for Howard.” Madree Penn was the one who first conceived the idea of Delta Sigma Theta in 1912. She was appointed Chair of the committee to draft the new Constitution and Bylaws and to devise the Initiation ritual. Penn, a linguist, selected the Greek symbols for the sorority. She succeeded Myra Davis Hemmings as President. She also held an individual initiation ceremony for Ruby Martin to establish Beta Chapter at Wilberforce during her presidency. Madree Penn served as the National Journalist under Ethel LaMay Calimese and helped to charter a Delta chapter in St. Louis. She was a member of Omega Chapter (now Greater Cleveland Alumnae Chapter). Madree Penn married Dr. James Eathel White and had two children, James E. White and Grace White Ware, who is a Delta. She served as executive secretary of the YWCA in Charlotte, North Carolina and then had a career in journalism. She served as associate editor and business manager of the Omaha Monitor and also formed her own publishing and printing company, the Triangle Press Company in St. Louis, Missouri. Additionally, Madree Penn White served as Associate Editor of the Howard University Alumni Journal. In 1966 she was honored by the League of Women Voters of Cleveland in 1966. She worked as a substitute Latin teacher in Cleve-land, taught at the National Training School for Girls in Washington, DC., Tucker Business College and Douglas University in St. Louis. Madree Penn White also worked for the Phyllis Wheatley Association in Richmond and Charlotte. Madree Penn White died on January 31, 1967 in Cleveland, Ohio. HONORARY MEMBER Madree Penn White Committee, the Southern Christian Leadership Con-ference and the National Association for the Advance-ment of Colored People. Dee spent her life promoting African-American arts and culture and made it her life’s work to provide American audiences with real life perspectives of the African American experience. It was Dee’s elegance, wisdom, tenacity, and audacity to demand respect for herself and all African-American women that prompt-ed Delta Sigma Theta to extend Honorary Member-ship to the veteran actress on Aug. 13, 1973. Dee was a key contributor to the realization of Delta Sigma Theta’s mission to control the images of African-Americans and their portrayal in the entertain-ment industry. She assisted the organization in pro-ducing “Countdown to Kusini”—a Black film, which was filmed in Nigeria and starred Dee. She also served as Honorary Chair and a member of several artistic committees and commissions within the Sorority. Dee was also a contributor on the album “Roses and Revo-lutions”— a private production of DST Telecommuni-cations, Inc. in 1975—containing a 2 record, 4-sided album featuring Delta artists in poetry and song. Throughout her career, Dee received numerous awards including an Emmy, a Grammy, two Screen Actors Guild awards, the NAACP Image Award, Ken-nedy Center Honors, and the National Medal of Art. In 2005, Dee received a lifetime achievement award from the National Civil Rights Museum in Memphis. Dee was preceded in death by her husband and fellow actor/activist Ossie Davis in 2005. Ruby Dee Madree Penn White, 1892-1967


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