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It is with regret that I report the passing of Ossie Davis.

For more info you can go to Howard U's website and cnn.com.

He will be missed.

 

 

Peace,

 

AudioGuy

 

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Tears flow in Harlem
BY KERRY BURKE, LESLIE CASIMIR and TRACY CONNOR
DAILY NEWS STAFF WRITERS
Saturday, February 12th, 2005

From Hollywood to Harmlem, thousands of mourners gathered yesterday for Ossie Davis' last curtain call - a stately funeral procession through Manhattan and a star-studded church service.

The famous stood alongside ordinary fans at Riverside Church to pay tribute to the late actor and activist and to give comfort to his widow and performing partner, Ruby Dee.

They remembered the power he brought to the stage and the picket line, his passion for the arts and his lifelong fight for civil rights and economic equality.

"All people embraced him as he embraced all people," singer and actor Harry Belafonte said in his eulogy. "But he held a special place in the heart and soul of black folk and the poor."

Former President Bill Clinton said he asked to sit in the back of the church because "I would proudly ride on the back of Ossie's bus any day."

"I was never in Ossie Davis' presence that I didn't want to stand up a little straighter, speak a little better, be a little more generous," Clinton said. "Thank you God, for letting us know him."

Davis, 87, died Feb. 4 in Miami Beach, where he was shooting a movie, leaving a legacy that includes 80 films, Broadway shows and a history of activism.

Though he was born in Georgia and spent the last years of his life in New Rochelle, Westchester County, Davis began his career in Harlem, where his final farewell was held.

It began at the Abyssinian Baptist Church on W. 138th St., where at 10 a.m. a mahogany coffin adorned with roses was carried into a black Cadillac hearse.

Led by a troupe of African drummers and trailed by a cavalcade of limos and a crowd of 100 on foot, the hearse was driven west to Riverside Church.

A line of people hoping to get into the service snaked around the block. Some held signs, others tapped on drums as they shared memories of Davis.

Chad Tucker, 19, an actor from Rosedale, Queens, had been in line since 4 a.m. He talked about how Davis and Dee visited him backstage after his performance in a play, "Blue," two years ago.

"It was the equivalent of being in a gold mine. I was so touched," he said. "When I win my Academy Award, he is one of the people I will thank."

The funeral was a spirited event. Wynton Marsalis played the jazz trumpet, Maya Angelou read a poem and actor Avery Brooks read from Davis' play, "Purlie Victorious."

Dee, who was married to Davis for more than half a century, wiped away tears as close friends paid tribute.

The Rev. Dr. James Forbes Jr., pastor of Riverside, called Davis "our guru, our philosopher king." Actor Alan Alda said Davis was "my hero."

"When I was 24, I stood in the wings every night watching Ossie in 'Purlie Victorious.' His power and his spontaneity were so vivid that it made the hair rise on your neck," he said.

Burt Reynolds, who co-starred with Davis in the TV show "Evening Shade," noted they were born in the same town.

"As I grew to love him, he took the bad part of the South out of me," Reynolds said.

Attallah Shabazz, the eldest daughter of Malcolm X, broke down as she recalled the eulogy Davis gave her father in 1965.

"Forty years ago, Uncle Ossie said ... 'Here at this final hour in this quiet place, Harlem has come to bid farewell to one of its finest hopes.'"

She paused and then added: "Ditto."

But there was plenty of laughter, too.

Earl Graves, publisher of Black Enterprise magazine, threw out some of Davis' trademark one-liners, which he called Ossie-isms.

If someone told Davis he was looking good, he would say, "They pay me to look good."

If they asked where his next job would take him, he would answer, "I don't know, but they will accept me when I arrive and they will pay me when I leave."

And when he was asked how he was doing, Davis would inevitably respond, "Better than I deserve, and I deserve the best."

"And he did deserve the best," Graves said. "Because the best is what he gave of himself."

Some of the most poignant - and funniest - tributes came from Davis' seven grandchildren.

"Bear with me," his grandson Brian said. "because he always said if we did his funeral wrong he was going to get up and do it himself."

Another grandson, Muta Ali, said he had been fighting back tears since he heard of Davis' death.

"You blessed my life for 25 years, and this Earth for 87," he said. "I guess you have to let the angels have their turn, too."

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