BLACK HISTORY WEDNESDAY 022509: Ruby Dee, Kearny


                                                                                                            Photo credit: AT&T Archives.


The Meadowlands Commission is honoring Black History Month with a weekly post on this blog. Today the topic is  Ruby Dee — pictured above working in Kearny. We would like to thank Tammy Marshall, librarian of the Meadowlands Environmental Research Institute, for her help in these Black History Month posts.

    Actress and civil rights champion Ruby Dee, who was born in Cleveland in 1924 and raised in Harlem, worked at the Western Electric Company‚Äôs Kearny Works during World War II, soldering wires on an assembly line.

   She graduated from Hunter College and got her first Broadway role in a play called "Jeb," about a black GI war hero. The star was Ossie Davis, whom she married two years later.  

   Both Davis and Dee were active in the Civil Rights Movement throughout their careers. Dee has been involved with the NAACP, the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) and the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE).

   Dee starred in "American Gangster," set in part in Bergen County, in 2007.

   For more information on Ruby Dee, click here.

   For more information on Kearny's Western Electric plant, click "Continue reading…" 

    Western Electric was one of the nation's largest distributors of electrical products in the first half of the 20th Century, with plants in Chicago, Baltimore and Kearny.  

    During World War II, when Ruby Dee worked at the Kearny Works, "most of Western Electric's products for the Bell System during this period were radio and wire communications equipment for war use at Army and Navy bases and defense contractors across America," according to a company history.

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