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
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 â€œartiste engagÃ©,â€ 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 â€œMan by the Shoreâ€ 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
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 â€œsuperpower.â€
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.