Cultural Tourism DC immortalizes Henrietta Vinton Davis with a plaque on her former residence


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.

It is significant to note her home is walking distance to the newly christened Atlas Performing Arts Centre on H street. Additionally, the African Continuum Theatre is resident of the Atlas.

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A Shero’s Journey: The Livication of Henrietta Vinton Davis


Program for “A Shero’s Journey: The Livication of Henrietta Vinton Davis”

Women’s History Month exhibit honors Lady Henrietta Vinton Davis


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.

Henrietta Vinton Davis Day Proclaimed in Baltimore


Designating August 25, 2009 "He"nrietta Vinton Davis Day in Baltimore

Designating August 25, 2009 “Henrietta Vinton Davis Day” in Baltimore

Mayor Sheila Dixon has proclaimed August 25, 2009 as “Henrietta Vinton Davis Day” in Baltimore.

Livication 2009


PRESS RELEASE

4/9/2009

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE CONTACT:

Nnamdi Azikiwe

202-483-6097

email: info@ladydavis.org

website: http://www.ladydavis.org

blog: http://henriettavintondavis.blogspot.com

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.

A scene from the play Christophe by William Edgar Easton

A scene from the play Christophe by William Edgar Easton

Proclamation for Henrietta Vinton Davis Day

Proclamation for Henrietta Vinton Davis Day

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.

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