In Memory of Ruby Dee of Kearny

We just heard the news that Ruby Dee died. Five years ago, in honor of Black History Month, we did a post about her.  Here it is again, in her memory…

IoA_Kearny_p62Photo credit: AT&T Archives.

Actress and civil rights champion Ruby Dee, who was born in Cleveland in 1924 and raised in Harlem, worked at the Western Electric Company’s 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.

2 thoughts on “In Memory of Ruby Dee of Kearny

  1. Mary

    Wow. I actually was a wire-man class B at ITT in Nutley and soldered wires on boxes for a military contract for a little over a year. I accidentally grabbed the hot end of my solder iron one time. It hurt. I also have a soldiering iron very similar and as large as the one Ruby Dee is holding right here that was in a pile to be thrown out from another job I worked at. Great photo.

  2. Michael Sciarappa

    My grandmother worked at the same factory in WWII. Where can I find photos of the factory during that era?


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