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A Tribute to Ossie Davis from Haiti Progres

With full credit to Haiti Progres


  • THIS WEEK IN HAITI *
    March 2 – 8, 2005
    Vol. 22, No. 51

    FEBRUARY 28, 2005:

    A TRIBUTE TO OSSIE DAVIS
    by Milton Leblanc

    Ossie was a friend of mine.

    Ossie was a friend of all of us who fight for justice and dignity for
    every human being.

    This kind a gentle man was able with his soft demeanor to affect
    monumental changes in the world.

    He eulogized the great Malcolm X, after his brutal assassination on
    February 21, 1965. He then eulogized Dr. Martin Luther King Jr, after
    his assassination on April 4, 1968. There are no eulogies left for
    Ossie.

    He gave us the best that can be found in any man. He lived a life of
    struggle, with his lovely queen, Ruby Dee, he walked the walk and
    talked the talk.

    For those of us who had the pleasure of meeting him, he left an
    unforgettable mark. For those that experienced his presence through
    films and other public appearances, he always portrayed the honest
    and the good in all us. He left us an incredible legacy… that of a
    sensitized man who championed the cause of the less fortunate.

    The quintessential “artiste engagé,” he participated in the major
    struggles of the 20th century. He ranks among those who attain a
    privileged and popular place in society but never forget their roots:
    the roots of poverty, discrimination, apathy and abuse performed by
    those who have material means at their disposal against those who do
    not have those means.

    Ossie will be missed. It is so hard to fill the shoes of one who
    accomplished so much and meant so much too so many. He was a tireless
    worker. He engaged all his faculties and all his artistic talents to
    bring change where change was needed. He opposed despots and despotic
    measures that impede human progress.

    It was in that capacity that he graced the Haitian people and the
    Haitian struggle when he hosted for the Haiti Support Network (HSN)
    the New York premiere of Raoul Peck’s film “Man by the Shore” on
    January 25, 1996. Along with his lifelong companion Ruby Dee, he
    joined other hosts of the evening including Ramsey Clark, former U.S.
    attorney general, Michael Moore, the noted documentary filmmaker,
    David Dinkins, former mayor of New York City, and other freedom
    loving people in support of the Haitian cause.

    Our paths crossed again when Ossie spoke at an April 7, 2004 rally at
    Brooklyn College organized by the HSN and the International Action
    Center to protest the February 29, 2004 coup. There, Ossie spoke
    about his childhood interest in Toussaint Louverture and Jean-Jacques
    Dessalines and about the Haitian revolution as an inspiration for his
    own life and of the pride that he felt speaking about the first
    successful slave rebellion in the world.

    Ossie identified with Haiti and Haitians because he knew that
    injustice against and indifference to Haitians and Haiti meant the
    same injustice against and indifference to all people who fight for
    justice everywhere.

    Ossie knew that the same oppressors responsible for the Haitian
    debacle were the same oppressors that are responsible for abusing the
    materially poor peoples of the world. From Ossie, we learn that
    Haiti’s current struggle reflect the struggles against slavery and
    against world domination by the remaining “superpower.”

    The people of Haiti have lost a great friend, someone who understood
    our struggle,who lived our struggle, and who walked comfortably in
    our shoes as if they were his own. We lost one of us.

    Ossie was one of our most prominent soldiers. We have lost a true
    warrior, and we are poorer because of it. But we march on because
    this great man, this great advocate of freedom, always marched with
    us and for us.

    Thank you Ruby. Thanks Ossie. Brother, you will be missed.

    All articles copyrighted Haiti Progres, Inc. REPRINTS ENCOURAGED.
    Please credit Haiti Progres.

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