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.
There is no marker on the grave of the woman Marcus Garvey called the greatest woman of the African race, Honorable Lady Henriertta Vinton Davis. The Henrietta Vinton Davis Memorial Foundation honors her annually with a livication ceremony at her gravesite every year.
1.the act of livicating or being livicated.
2.A note or inscription prefixed to a work of literary, artistic or musical composition bestowing gratitude upon someone in token of affection or esteem.
3.A rite or ceremony of livicating.
1.To set apart for divine or spiritual purposes and uses.
2.To focus one’s thought or actions on life and living.
3.Complete and wholehearted devotion to life, career, ideal, etc.
4.A Rastafarian vocabulary term meaning “to bring to life.”
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.
SHINE ON, ETERNAL LIGHT
Tune — “Hamiltonia”
words and Music by ARNOLD J. FORD
Shine on, Eternal Light
To greet our souls this day;
Dispel the gloominess of night
And drive our doubts away.
Our longing eyes prepare
When war and strife shall cease,
To view the morn soon to appear;
The “New Era” of Peace.
Thy Temple O our God,
No kingdom can remove,
Made without hands, this blest abode,
The Harbinger of Love.
Of all the gifts that flow
From Thy great throne above,
We ask Thee on our hearts bestow
The gift of “Perfect Love.”
My soul the Light receives
And dares the Truth to prove,
Not in blind ignorance believes,
But knows that God is love.
Come Love, and give new birth
To man’s destructive mind.
Spread where confusion reigns on earth
Good-will to all mankind.
Shine on, Eternal Light,
Thy penetrating ray
Shall turn the hour of darkest night
Into Eternal Day.
Henrietta Vinton Davis staged, directed and acted in William Edgar Easton’s play, “Christophe” on April 3, 1912 at the Lenox Casino in Harlem, New York City. It was the second collaboration between the two, having staged a production of Easton’s Dessalines in Chicago during 1893.
Although the leading actress of African ancestry in the United States, in order for her to appear in reputable plays it was necessary that she direct, write and act in plays which she produced.
To Henrietta Vinton Davis.
In garments of glittering sheen,
Our hearts bowed down in gracious homage,
And we crowned you as our queen.
Thou beautiful dark-eyed queen,
None more worthy of allegiance
On the throne was ever seen.
Thy magic art has been seen
We sat enslaved by thy sweet caprice,
Our fair, yes, charming queen.
We pledge thee our sympathy keen,
We pledge thee the love of a nation
And crown thee fore’er our queen!
(Katherine Davis Tillman, in New York Age.)
MONDAY – AUGUST 25, 2008
LADY HENRIETTA VINTON DAVIS
A MEMORIAL ON THE OCCASION OF LADY DAVIS’ 148TH EARTHDAY
10:00AM Livication Service at National Harmony Memorial Park 7101 Sheriff Road Largo, MD 20792
3:00PM -6:00PM Program at Martin Luther King Library room A-4
7:00PM Rally at UNIA Liberty Hall
Lady Henrietta Vinton Davis
Shakespearean Actor, Elocutionist, Dramatic Reader, UNIA International Organizer, Black Star Line Vice President
Henrietta Vinton Davis born August 25, 1860 Baltimore, Maryland, joined the ancestors on November 23, 1941 in Washington, DC.
An only child, her father, Mansfield Vinton Davis was a musician who passed away when she was very young. Her mother Mary Ann Davis married influential Baltimorean George Alexander Hackett. Hackett passed away when Davis was 9 years old. She and her mother then moved to Washington, DC.
Davis schooled in Washington until the age of 15. She became a schoolteacher in Maryland. Eventually, she went to work at the DC Recorder of Deeds in 1878 before Frederick Douglass.
Her desire for a theatrical career inspired her to study under Miss Marguerite E. Saxton. April 25, 1883 Miss Davis was introduced in her debut as an actor by Frederick Douglass. For over thirty-five years she was the premier African-American woman of the stage performing “Shakespearean Delineations”, original plays and dramatic readings throughout the USA, Caribbean and Central America.
In 1919 her career took a dramatic turn when Lady Davis joined the Universal Negro Improvement Association and African Communities League headed by Marcus Garvey. Initially chosen as International Organizer, she eventually held positions as Assistant President-General and Vice-President of the Black Star Line. On Black Star Line flagship SS Frederick Douglass’ maiden voyage, she was the ranking member of the UNIA and the Black Star Line as it carried its cargo worth upwards of $5,000,000 to Cuba.
After leaving Jamaica where she continued supporting Garvey, she returned to the USA. There she joined the UNIA, Inc. headquartered in NY city. In 1934 she was elected President-General of that group.
At the age of eighty-one she joined the ancestors. Having been divorced, without children of her own and livicating her life to bettering the condition of her people, she was buried in Harmony Cemetery in Washington, D.C. without a marker for her grave.
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