Clayton LeBouef has a very clear memory of when he first encountered Henrietta Vinton Davis. It was 1992, not long before he won the role of Baltimore Police Col. George Barnfather in TV’s Homicide: Life on the Street. LeBouef was a Washington, D.C.-based actor performing in a CenterStage production of Shakespeare’s little-produced Pericles. Rehearsals were over, and opening night loomed.
Cultural Tourism DC announced that it will unveil a plaque at the former residence of the Honorable Lady Henrietta Vinton Davis on May 8, 2010 at 2pm.
Miss Davis’ residence has been a part of Cultural Tourism DC’s African American Heritage Trail for nearly a decade. The recognition comes on the heels of a “Livication” program honoring Miss Davis at Washington, DC’s Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial Library held on Sunday March 14, 2010. The program was a collaborative effort between the Henrietta Vinton Davis Memorial Foundation and the Martin Luther King, Jr, Memorial Library. The event was the kickoff for an exhibit recognizing Miss Davis’ significance as an elocutionist, dramatic reader and Shakespearean actor.
Her career marked a turning point in the history of Africans in America. She earned a living as a performing artist at a time when there were few with the training and skills to perform with her.
Below are a few photos of the exhibit reviewing the life of Lady Henrietta Vinton Davis at the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial Library in Washington, DC.
On Thursday May 15, 2008, Take Wing and Soar Productions honored Henrietta Vinton Davis with a special tribute during its Sprit of Excellence Awards Celebration. The event, held at the National Black Theatre in Harlem, New York. Also paid tribute to a number of leaders and achievers such as James Earl Jones, Pat Stevenson, Arthur French, Bryan Webster, and Earle Hyman.
Mayor Sheila Dixon has proclaimed August 25, 2009 as “Henrietta Vinton Davis Day” in Baltimore.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE CONTACT:
AUGUST 25, 2009 is HENRIETTA VINTON DAVIS DAY
-Events to recognize cultural icon-
Washington, DC –Today the Henrietta Vinton Davis Memorial Foundation announced plans to host Livication Day 2009. The Foundation has as its mission to raise awareness of the life and legacy of Shakespearean actor, elocutionist, dramatic reader and activist Henrietta Vinton Davis.
Miss Davis remained relatively unrecognized until July 1983 when an article entitled “Henrietta Vinton Davis and the Garvey Movement” by Professor William Seraille was published in the journal ‘Afro-Americans in New York Life and History’. Nearly a year later, acknowledgment of her contributions increased with the publication of the book ‘Shakespeare in Sable’ written by Professor Errol Hill of Dartmouth University. In 1994, actor Clayton LeBouef received a commission to write a play on her life entitled ‘Shero: The Livication of Henrietta Vinton Davis.’ Her home in Northeast Washington, DC has been listed on Cultural Tourism DC’s African American Heritage Trail since 1999.
In 2008, DC Mayor Adrian Fenty issued a proclamation designating August 25 ‘Henrietta Vinton Davis Day.’ The designation furthers the Foundation’s efforts to raise awareness of Miss Davis’ life and garner funds to place a marker at her grave. The decree issued in 2008 acknowledges Davis as the first African American to work at the DC Recorder of Deeds office beginning in 1878, before Frederick Douglas was appointed Recorder. The proclamation also recognizes Miss Davis’ significance as a cultural icon. She made her career debut as a Shakespearean actor, elocutionist, dramatic reader and impressionist in Washington, DC on April 25, 1883 where she was introduced by Douglas, a family friend.
The proclamation also acknowledges the success of Miss Davis as a public speaker. During 1919, a year remembered for its “Red Summer,” she joined the Universal Negro Improvement Association and African Communities League headed by Marcus Garvey.
The Livication Service will be conducted at her grave site located in National Harmony Memorial Park 7101 Sheriff Road Largo, MD (phone:301-772-0900). on Tuesday, August 25, 2009 at 10:00 A.M. Other activities are also in the planning stages.
About Henrietta Vinton Davis
For thirty-five years after her debut performing “Shakespearean delineations”, original plays and dramatic readings with her own performing company, and local troupes throughout the United States, South America and the Caribbean, Henrietta Vinton Davis broke new ground as a successful theatrical artisan in the United States. Her dedication to her craft gained her recognition as the first African American “woman of the stage.”
As a leader of the African Redemption Movement beginning in 1919, Davis made use of her acting skills to promote the aims and objectives of the UNIA. Her ability to “transport her listeners” to another place with her oratorical skills played a key role in both attracting members to the organization and promoting the Black Star Line Shipping Company. As such, she was elected to numerous positions including International Organizer, and Third Assistant President General of the UNIA. Additionally, as Vice President and a Director of the Black Star Line. Davis was the de facto authority aboard the Black Star Line’s flagship vessel, the S.S. Yarmouth, on its maiden voyage. The ship was laden with a cargo worth upwards of $5.000.000 destined for the Caribbean. On the ship’s return Marcus Garvey proclaimed Miss Davis “the greatest woman of the [African] race today” in a meeting at the UNIA’s Liberty Hall.
About The Henrietta Vinton Davis Memorial Foundation
Initially organized to raise funds solely to place a marker at the grave of Lady Henrietta Vinton Davis in 2005, the mission of The Henrietta Vinton Davis Memorial Foundation has evolved to include educating the general public on her life by producing plays, publishing books, producing documentary videos and conducting symposiums educating the general public about her life and the times in which she lived.