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
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).Continue reading