Ossie Davis

Ossie Davis (born Raiford Chatman Davis, December 18, 1917 – February 4, 2005) was an Emmy Award winning and Grammy nominated, African- American film, television and Broadway actor, director, poet, playwright, author, and social activist. Davis was born Raiford Chatman Davis in Cogdell, Clinch County, Georgia, a son of Kince Charles Davis, a railway construction engineer, and his wife Laura (née Cooper). The name Ossie came from a county clerk who misheard his mother's pronunciation of his initials "R.C." when he was born. So he inadvertently became "Ossie" when his mother told the courthouse clerk in Clinch River, Ga., who was filing his birth certificate that his name was R.C. Davis. Davis experienced racism from an early age as the KKK threatened to shoot his father, whose job they felt was too advanced for a black man to have. Following the wishes of his parents, he attended Howard University but dropped out in 1939 to fulfill his acting career in New York; he later attended Columbia University School of General Studies. His acting career, which spanned seven decades, began in 1939 with the Rose McClendon Players in Harlem.


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