NEW ROCHELLE, N.Y. – To honor the memory of New Rochelle actress and activist Ruby Dee, the Westchester County Board of Legislators has unanimously voted to change the name of Library Green Park to Ruby Dee Park at Library Green.
Dee, a renowned activist and an acclaimed actress on both stage and screen, died in her New Rochelle home in June. Her work spanned more than 50 years, from when she starred in “The Jackie Robinson Story” in 1950 to the Denzel Washington-driven “American Gangster” just seven years ago.
The actress, and her husband, playwright/actor Ossie Davis, were constantly raising the idea of social consciousness. In 1963, they served as masters of ceremony at the March on Washington and were awarded the Presidential Medial for Lifetime Achievement in the Arts in 1995.
New Rochelle Legislator Jim Maisano, a longtime representative of the area, said that although they were a high profile couple, Dee and Davis always remained grounded in their everyday lives.
“I was always impressed at how Ruby and Ossie were wiling to get involved with local events and issues, but what really amazed me is how approachable they were,” he said in a statement. “In the eyes of the world, Ruby Dee and Ossie Davis were major celebrities, but to New Rochelle residents they were very much a part of our community.”
During her career, Dee won an Emmy, Grammy and Screen Actors Guild Award for her work. At the time of her death, New Rochelle Mayor Noam Bramson said that she was responsible for inspiring countless generations of Americans.
“In New Rochelle, we were privileged to see another side of Ruby, a woman of great personal warmth, who cared deeply for her neighbors. Ruby and her late husband, Ossie Davis, didn’t simply reside in New Rochelle, they were pillars of our community,” he said. “Ruby’s presence in New Rochelle has always been a source of pride to the people of our city. We are united now in gratitude for the opportunity to share in her remarkable life.”
County Legislator Sheila Marcotte echoed the words of her colleagues, noting that the power couple found a way to use their celebrity to benefit both New Rochelle, and Westchester County as a whole.
“Ruby Dee and her husband Ossie Davis never missed an opportunity to use their influence for the good of their community,” she said. “From their commitment to the civil rights movement to their love and generosity for their adopted home of New Rochelle, we should remember that we all have a responsibility to remain engaged and supportive of our local community.
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