LIVICATION TRIBUTE TO LADY HENRIETTA VINTON DAVIS


MONDAY – AUGUST 25, 2008

L.A. Scruggs, 1893.)

TRIBUTE TO

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.

HTTP://WWW.LADYDAVIS.ORG

The Henrietta Vinton Davis Memorial Foundation

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PRESS RELEASE


PRESS RELEASE

08/09/2008

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE CONTACT:

Nnamdi Azikiwe

202-483-6097

email: info@ladydavis.org

website: http://www.ladydavis.org

blog: http://henriettavintondavis.blogspot.com

D.C. MAYOR ADRIAN FENTY DECLARES AUGUST 25 HENRIETTA VINTON DAVIS DAY

-Proclamation recognizes cultural icon-

Washington, DC –The Henrietta Vinton Davis Memorial Foundation announced today that DC Mayor Adrian Fenty has proclaimed August 25, 2008 ‘Henrietta Vinton Davis Day.’ The designation comes on the day the Foundation plans to unveil a marker at Miss Davis’ grave in National Harmony Park located in Landover, Maryland. The Foundation plans to host a memorial service at the grave site that day at 10:00 A.M.

The decree acknowledges Davis as the first African American to work at the DC Recorder of Deeds office beginning in 1878 before Frederick Douglas. The proclamation also recognizes Miss Davis’ significance as a cultural icon. She made her debut in her career as an actor, elocutionist, dramatic reader and impressionist in Washington, DC on April 25, 1883 where she was introduced by the then Recorder of Deeds, Frederick Douglas.

Furthermore, the proclamation 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.

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, as well as, Vice President of the Black Star Line. On the maiden voyage of the Black Star Line’s flagship vessel with a cargo worth upwards of $5.000.000 to the Caribbean, Davis was the ranking member of both the UNIA and the Black Star Line.

About The Henrietta Vinton Davis Memorial Foundation

Initially organized to raise funds merely to place a marker at the grave and to the legacy 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.

Proclamation for Henrietta Vinton Davis Day

Proclamation for Henrietta Vinton Dav

L.A. Scruggs, 1893.)

Miss Henrietta Davis of UNIA Buried in D.C.


Funeral services for Miss Henrietta Vinton Davis, 65, elocutionist, dramatic art and music teacher, and
Universal Negro Improvement Association official, were held Wednesday afternoon at the A.S. Pope Funeral Home, with the Rev. I.M. Gray officiating.

Henrietta Vinton Davis with UNIA commissioners in 1924 sent to Liberia in 1924

Henrietta Vinton Davis with UNIA commissioners sent to Liberia in 1924

Miss Davis died Sunday morning after a lengthy illness.  The body was interred at Harmony Cemetery.  She is survived only by a cousin, Mrs. Georgianna Jackson of 721 Dolphin Street, Baltimore.

Studied in Europe

Miss Davis, a native of Baltimore, attended public schools in Washington, became a teacher at 15 and shortly thereafter went abroad and studied elocution and drama at institutions in France, London and Germany.

In 1921, she began her work in the West Indies as fourth assistant president-general of the UNIA, serving at outposts in South and Central America, Martinique, Guadeloupe, St. Thomas, Virgin Islands; Port au Prince, Haiti; Trinidad and Jamaica.

Made World-Wide Tours

In 1929, she became assistant president-general, serving directly under the late Marcus Garvey, founder of the movement.  While he went to London, she remained in Kingston, B.W.I., until the following year when she returned to the United States.

Miss Davis made world-wide tours, giving lectures in the interest of the UNIA until ill health forced her retirement.

— taken from the Washington Afro, November 29, 1941 page 5

IN ALL HER GLORY: The Honorable Henrietta Vinton Davis, Lady Grand Commander Of the Nile


IN ALL HER GLORY: The Honorable Henrietta Vinton Davis, Lady Commander Order of the Nile

“WE MUST CANONIZE OUR OWN SAINTS, CREATE OUR OWN MARTYRS AND ELEVATE TO POSITIONS OF FAME AND GLORY BLACK WOMEN AND MEN WHO HAVE MADE THEIR DISTINCT CONTRIBUTION TO OUR HISTORY.”  AFRICAN FUNDAMENTALISM BY MARCUS GARVEY

Henrietta Vinton Davis from Women of distinction: remarkable in works and invincible in character. (Raleigh, N.C. : L.A. Scruggs, 1893.)
Henrietta Vinton Davis from Women of distinction: remarkable in works and invincible in character. (Raleigh, N.C. : L.A. Scruggs, 1893.)

The Honorable Lady Henrietta Vinton Davis was a Shakespearean actor, elocutionist, dramatic reader, and public speaker. She was proclaimed by Marcus Garvey to be “the greatest woman of the [African] race”. She is currently lying in an unmarked grave in National Harmony Memorial Park in Largo, Maryland. The Henrietta Vinton Davis Memorial Foundation is committed to increasing the general public’s awareness and erecting a memorial to the life and legacy of the Honorable Henrietta Vinton Davis, Lady Commander Order of the Nile. In addition to raising funds for a fitting memorial to her life, we also intend to sponsor performances of a play entitled “Shero: The Livication of Henrietta Vinton Davis” written by Actor Clayton Lebouef, produce a biopic on her life and publish her biography.  Hopefully, after reading this brief synopsis of her life you too will be inspired to add your name to the list of those who consolidated their resources in order to bestow a fitting memorial upon her. Nothing less is due a woman of her stature.

On August 15, 1860, Henrietta Vinton Davis was freeborn in Baltimore, Maryland to Mansfield Vinton and Mary Ann (Johnson) Davis. Her father, who was a pianist, died shortly thereafter.  Six months later in 1861, her mother married George A. Hackett. A coal yard operator and former livery stable owner, Hackett is one of the most prominent Africans in Baltimore at that time. His lobbying efforts are credited with swaying public opinion among the citizens of Maryland to defeat the 1859 Jacobs Bill. The intention of that bill was to deport from Maryland all adults of African ancestry and enslave all free African children. It was considered a response to the raid on Harper’s Ferry by John Brown. He was also a member of the Board of Directors of The Chesapeake Marine Railway and Dry Dock Company of Baltimore City, the only African American Shipbuilding company in the United States which was co founded by  Hackett’s friend Isaac Myers.  Captain Hackett died in April of 1870 after voting despite warnings to the African community in Baltimore against doing so. He was given an elaborate funeral at Bethel AME Church with Senator Hiram Revels of Mississippi among the distinguished list of attendees and an eulogy conducted by Bishop Daniel Alexander Payne. The ceremony was followed by a mile long procession of carriages and marchers across the city of Baltimore from west to east. Hackett was interred in what was then Laurel Cemetery (bulldozed in the 1950s for a shopping mall, some graves including Hackett’s were moved to Johnsville, Maryland).

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August 25, 2008 is Henrietta Vinton Davis Day


Proclamation for Henrietta Vinton Davis Day

Henrietta Vinton Davis Day

August 25, 2008

A proclamation by the Mayor of the District of Columbia.

WHEREAS, Henrietta Vinton Davis was born on August 25, 1860 in Baltimore, Maryland, but later moved to Washington, DC where she received her education and became the first African American to work at the DC Recorder of Deeds; and

WHEREAS, in her lifetime she worked with the abolitionist movement of Frederick Douglas and the African Redemption Movement of the Universal Negro Improvement Association and African Communities League (UNIA-ACL) with Marcus Garvey; and
WHEREAS, Henrietta Vinton Davis’ residence which is located at 1219 Linden Place, NE has been placed on the Cultural Tourism DC’s African American Heritage Trail and today a marker will be unveiled at her grave site:

NOW, THEREFORE, I, THE MAYOR OF THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA, do hereby proclaim August 25, 2008 as “HENRIETTA VINTON DAVIS DAY” in Washington, DC, and call upon all the residents of this great city to join me in remembering this distinguished individual for her contributions.

Adrian M. Fenty

Mayor, District of Columbia