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Emmy winning actress and Civil Rights Activist dead at 91

African-American actress Ruby Dee passed away on June 11, 2014 in New Rochelle, New York.
Photo by Astrid Stawiarz/Getty Images

Civil Rights Activist and acclaimed actress Ruby Dee died at her home at age 91 in New Rochelle, New York on June 11, 2014.

According to her daughter, the African-American actress perished from "natural causes" and parted peacefully.

Dee is survived by three children: Nora Day, Hasna Muhammad and Guy, and seven grandchildren.

Dee was an original among our nation's black actresses. Dee's illustrious career earned her a Grammy, an Emmy, and two Screen Actors Guild awards. Dee's films include "A Raisin in the Sun", "The Jackie Robinson Story", and "Jungle Fever".

Dee was born in Cleveland, Ohio on October 27, 1922 as Ruby Ann Wallace. She was the daughter of a schoolteacher and a train porter. She was raised in the Harlem quarter of New York City.

Dee attended Hunter College in New York. She later joined the American Negro Theater in 1941. Dee made her Broadway debut in the original production of "South Pacific" and in 1959 starred in the Broadway premiere of "A Raisin in the Sun".

She became the first black actress to perform lead roles at the American Shakespeare Festival in Stratford, Connecticut.

Dee won an Oscar nomination in 2008 at age 83 for best supporting actress for her role in the biographical crime film "American Gangster."

Most recently, Dee acted her one-woman stage performance, “My One Good Nerve: A Visit With Ruby Dee,” in playhouses around the nation.

She was espoused to actor Ossie Davis for 56 years until his passing in 2005. In 1945 the couple met when Dee auditioned for the Broadway play "Jeb," and wed on a day off from another play in 1948.

They performed together in 11 plays and five films. They appeared together at some of the monumental events of the volatile civil rights era. Dee and Davis later became signal figures in the US civil rights movement. In fact, Martin Luther King, Jr. was a close friend of the couple.

The two also served together as masters of ceremony during the momentous 1963 March on Washington. Dee was a member of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People as well as the Congress of Racial Equality.

Our nation will never be the same after the passing of this precious and heartwarming American. She embodies the powerful sense of equality that has helped shape our country.

Dee once stated, "The kind of beauty I want most is the hard-to-get kind that comes from within - strength, courage, dignity."

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