The Lady Vanishes: Meet Henrietta Vinton Davis-one of the most amazing women you’ve probably never heard of | Baltimore City Paper

This article tells the journey of three men: their discovery of “The Shero of Our Story,” the lack of a marker on her grave, and the founding of the Henrietta Vinton Davis Memorial Foundation to rectify that historical oversight.

The Lady Vanishes: Meet Henrietta Vinton Davis-one of the most amazing women you’ve probably never heard of | Baltimore City Paper.


Exonerate Marcus Garvey! Sign the White House petition before October 22, 2011

Marcus Garvey said, "We are going to emancipate ourselves from mental slavery, for though others may free the body, none but ourselves can free the mind."

Marcus Garvey with quote on mental emancipation, the next stage of human development.

Click here to sign the petition to exonerate Marcus Garvey!!!

Marcus Garvey is the source for Bob Marley’s well known phrase in “Redmption Song:”

Emancipate yourselves from mental slavery; None but ourselves can free our minds.

That famous lyric originated with Marcus Garvey.  In his 1937 speech “The Work That Has Been Done” given at Menelik Hall in Nova Scotia Garvey states:

We are going to emancipate ourselves from mental slavery because whilst others might free the body, none but ourselves can free the mind.

The mental emancipation Garvey spoke about has yet to become significantly widespread among the human race.  One indication humanity has yet to achieve mental emancipation is the fact criminal charges are still on the records of the United States Federal Government.  Does such fact Garvey’s of universal emancipation warrant his exoneration?  With such a powerful statement having influence on people worldwide to the extent they seek further knowledge as to source of Bob Marley’s lyrics it would seem the answer is in the affirmative.

The only evidence used to convict Marcus Garvey was actually an absence of evidence.  At trial a single empty envelope was presented.  Allegedly the envelope once contained a flyer which suggested the Black Star Line owned a ship named for Phillis Wheatley, the first African-American to have published poetry.  Garvey was out of the USA at the time and therefore could not have created such a flyer if one actually existed.

This link will take you to the White House petition in support of Marcus Garvey’s exoneration.  We need 5000 signers by October 22, 2011.  Please share this with as many people as possible.

More information on the Garvey Case can be found in the article by Professor Justin Hansford.  Jailing A Rainbow can be read at the link below:






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.

Liv-i-ca-tion n.
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.

Livicate v.
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.”

Livication 2009




Nnamdi Azikiwe






-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

The Holy Piby Speaks of Henrietta Vinton Davis

The Holy Piby Speaks of Henrietta Vinton Davis

In the Holy Piby Henrietta Vinton Davis is identfied as one of the “Apostles” apointed to “to save Ethiopia and her generations from everlasting downfall” with Marcus Garvey and Robert Lincoln Poston.



Therefore, Athlyi yielded him a copy of the map, and declared Marcus Garvey an apostle of the Lord God for the redemption of Ethiopia and her suffering posterities.


Now when Marcus Garvey, God’s foremost apostle, heard the voice of his colleague, apostle Robert Lincoln Poston, preaching in the city of Detroit, Michigan, United States of America, he knew that this was his colleague for the lord God hath revealed, notwithstanding the three apostles had met in the spirit before they came to administer the law Gospel for the full salvation of Ethiopia’s posterities.

Now when the amalgamation of their apostleship was verified, apostle Poston came to New York City, United States of America, and then teamed with apostle Garvey in the work for the redemption of Ethiopia and her trodden posterities, whom through the oppression of the nations and the ignorance of the Negro ministers of Christian faith, were hanging over the bridge of death, both body and soul.



“Moreover, behold at thy side is the noble woman Henrietta in whom the whole heaven adore because of her greatness of faith and the loyal way in which she fights to save Ethiopia and her generations from everlasting downfall. Place her at the side of thy colleague, for great is her wisdom, saith the Lord, and send ye also another that they go and prepare a home for mine anointed.”


Historians study the past with its emphasis on personalities and events. Sometimes the great doers of past decades are remembered. More often, men and women of achievement, while important in their own times, are overlooked by historians. Such a person is Henrietta Vinton Davis who made a name for herself not only as a major elocutionist but as a leading exponent of Marcus Garvey’s “race first” concept.

Davis, who was born in 1860, was the daughter of Mansfield Vinton Davis, a talented musician, and Mary Ann (Johnson) Davis. As a young woman, she studied under Marguerite E. Saxon of Washington, D.C., Edwin Lawrence of New York City, and Rachel Noah of Boston, where she attended the Boston School of Oratory. During her late teens she taught school in Maryland and Louisiana. In 1878 she became the first black woman to be employed by the Office of the Recorder of the Deeds in the nation’s capital. It was in this capacity that she met Frederick Douglass who held the position of Recorder from 1881 to 1886.1 Continue reading

In All Her Glory: The Life and Times of Henrietta Vinton Davis

The Honorable Lady Henrietta Vinton Davis was a Shakespearean actor, elocutionist, dramatic reader, and public speaker. At a meeting of the Black Star Line Shipping Company on May 1, 1920 she was proclaimed by Marcus Garvey to be “the greatest woman of the Negro race” (sic). She is currently lying in an unmarked grave in National Harmony Memorial Park in Largo, Maryland.

L.A. Scruggs, 1893.)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 of the Nile. In addition to raising funds for a memorial, we also intend to sponsor performances of a play entitled “Shero: The Livication of Henrietta Vinton Davis” written by Actorvist Clayton Lebouef, 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 energies in sufficient degree to bestow a fitting memorial upon her. Nothing less is due a woman of her stature. Continue reading