Raiford Chatman "Ossie" Davis
Field of Study
Alumnus & trustee
QuoteAny form of art is a form of power. It has impact. It can affect change. It can not only move us; it makes us move.
Born on December 18, 1917, in Cogdell, Georgia, Ossie Davis hitchhiked from Georgia to Washington, D.C., after high school, where he received the National Youth Administration scholarship and enrolled at Howard University in the fall of 1935. There, Davis found a nurturing environment to cultivate both his ideas and his talents. Impatient to try his luck on the actual stage, Davis left Howard for New York City, where in 1939, he became involved with the Rose McClendon Players. After his 1946 Broadway debut, Davis went on to perform in many Broadway productions, including “Anna Lucasta,” “The Wisteria Trees,” “Green Pastures,” “Jamaica, Ballad for Bimshire,” “A Raisin in the Sun,” “The Zulu and the Zayda,” and the stage version of “I'm Not Rappaport.” Davis was inducted into the Theater Hall of Fame in 1994.Davis has written and directed numerous films, including “Countdown at Kusini,” the first American feature film shot entirely in Africa by Black professionals. Davis has received the Hall of Fame Award for Outstanding Artistic Achievement; the U.S. National Medal for the Arts; the New York Urban League Frederick Douglas Award; NAACP Image Award; and the Screen Actor's Guild Lifetime Achievement Award.