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.
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 DockCompany 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).