- Henrietta Vinton Davis
Henrietta Vinton Davis (
August 15, 1860- November 23, 1941) was an American elocutionist, dramatist, and impersonator.
and Marcus Garvey.
Henrietta Vinton Davis was born in Baltimore to musician Mansfield Vinton and Mary Ann (Johnson) Davis. Shortly after her birth her father died. Within six months her mother was remarried to influential Baltimorean
George A. Hackett. Hackett was a member of Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Churchand worked to defeat the 1859 Jacobs bill which intended to enslave the children of free Africans and deport their parents from the state of Maryland.
Hackett died in April 1870 after a short illness. Upon his death Mary Ann Hackett moved with her daughter Henrietta to
Washington, D.C., where Henrietta received her public school education. At the early age of fifteen she passed the necessary examination and was awarded the position of a teacher in the public schools of Maryland.
After a period of time teaching in Maryland, she went to teach in the state of
Louisiana. She later returned to Maryland to care for her ailing mother bearing with her the certificate of the Board of Education. In 1878, and only in her late teens, she became the first African-Americanwoman employed by the Office of the Recorder of Deedsin Washington, D.C.under George A. Sheridanas a copyist. In 1881 Frederick Douglasswas appointed Recorder of Deeds.
Within a year Miss Davis began her elocution and dramatic art education under the tutelage of Miss
Marguerite E. Saxtonof Washington. On April 25, 1883, she was introduced by the Honorable Frederick Douglass before a distinguished integrated audience. She went on to appear in New London, Connecticut, New Yorkstate, Boston, and "more than a dozen of the larger cities of the Eastern and Middle States". During the summer of 1883 Miss Davis (under the management of James Monroe Trotterand William H Dupree) made a tour of Boston, Worcester, and New Bedford, Massachusetts; Providence and Newport, Rhode Island; Hartford and New Haven, Connecticut; and New York City, Albany and Saratoga, New York.
During this time she continued perfecting her craft under Professor Edwin Lawrence of New York and Rachael Noah of Boston. She also attended the Boston School of Oratory.
Her performances consisted of a diverse spectrum of works from
Paul Lawrence Dunbar's Negro dialects to such works as "Romeo and Juliet"; "As you like it"; "Mary Queen of Scots"; "Cleopatra's Dying Speech"; "The Battle" by Sciller; and "How Tom Sawyer Got His Fence Whitewashed" by Mark Twain. She is considered the first African Americanto have made an attempt at Shakesperean delineations after Ira Aldridge. On January 17, 1884she appeared before a crowded house in Melodeon Hall, Cincinnati, Ohio. In 1893 she started her own company in Chicago, travelled to the Caribbean, and collaborated on writing Our Old Kentucky Home with distinguished journalist and future Garveyite John Edward Bruce.
While traveling in the Caribbean, Davis learned of the work of
Marcus Garvey. In 1919, she accepted Garvey's invitation to speak at the Palace Casinoin Harlem, NYC. She decided to give up her career to work with Garvey and the UNIA-ACL, becoming the UNIA's first International Organizer, a director of the Black Star Lineand the second Vice-President of the corporation.
At the UNIA-ACL convention in August 1920, Miss Davis was one of the signatories of the
The Declaration of the Rights of the Negro Peoples of the World. Among the 54 declarations made in this document are resolutions that the colors red, black, and green are to be the symbolic colors of the Africanrace and the term " nigger" cease being used. Furthermore, it demands that the word " Negro" be written with a capital "N". During the same convention the High Potentate of the UNIA conveyed upon her the title "Lady Commander of the Grand Order of the Nile".
In 1921, Lady Davis rose in rank to become the fourth assistant President-General of the UNIA-ACL. She established UNIA-ACL divisions in
Cuba; Guadeloupe; St. Thomas, Virgin Islands; Port-au-Prince, Haiti; Trinidad and Tobagoand Jamaica.
Unseated by Garvey in June 1923 in an effort to quell dissent in the UNIA's New York headquarters, she was reelected during the August 1924 convention. On
August 25, 1924she chaired the convention meeting as the Fourth-Assistant President General of the UNIA. In December, she traveled to Liberia, West Africaas the only woman in the UNIA delegation seeking consent to establish a UNIA-ACL colony in Liberia. In that same year she was a member of a committee which delivered petitions to U.S. President Calvin Coolidgeseeking Garvey's exoneration on mail fraud charges. At the 1929 International Convention of the UNIA she was elected UNIA Secretary General.
eparation from Garvey and UNIA-ACL
By 1932 she broke with Garvey and became first Assistant President General of the rival UNIA, Inc. In the 1934 convention she was elected President of the rival organization.
November 23, 1941she died in Saint Elizabeth's Hospital, Washington, D.C., at the age of eighty-one years. She is buried in [http://www.gazette.net/stories/021606/prinrel170018_31992.shtml National Harmony Memorial Park] in Largo, Maryland.
* [http://www.ladydavis.org The Henrietta Vinton Davis Memorial Foundation]
* [http://www.unia-acl.org The Official UNIA-ACL website]
* [http://www.unia-acl.org/archive/hevda.htm Henrietta Vinton Davis]
* [http://www.ladydavis.org Marcus Garvey proclaimed her the "greatest woman of the (African) race today."]
* [http://dbs.ohiohistory.org/africanam/page.cfm?ID=15839 Cleveland Gazette]
12 May 1888
* [http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/amex/garvey/sfeature/sf_forum_14.html Comparing the Role of Women in the Garvey Movement]
* [http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/amex/garvey/peopleevents/e_womenunia.html People & Events: Women in the Garvey Movement]
* [http://dbs.ohiohistory.org/africanam/page1.cfm?itemID=11293 Letter from Henrietta Vinton Davis to George Myers]
26 January 1899
* [http://dbs.ohiohistory.org/africanam/page.cfm?ID=10393 Letter from Henrietta Vinton Davies to George Myers]
28 January 1897
* [http://dbs.ohiohistory.org/africanam/page.cfm?ID=14105 Cleveland Gazette ]
9 February 1884
* [http://dbs.ohiohistory.org/africanam/page.cfm?ID=14905 Miss Henrietta Vinton Davis, Tragedienne, Cleveland Gazette,]
24 April 1886
* [http://www.uky.edu/Subject/aakyall.html Our Old Kentucky Home]
* [http://www.culturaltourismdc.org/info-url3948/info-url_show.htm?doc_id=209079&attrib_id=7978 Henrietta Vinton Davis House]
* [http://henriettavintondavis.wordpress.com/2008/06/06/henrietta-vinton-davis-and-the-garvey-movement-by-william-seraile/ HENRIETTA VINTON DAVIS AND THE GARVEY MOVEMENT by William Seraile]
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