Henrietta Davis, actress, orator, and leader of the Garvey movement. She was proclaimed by Marcus Garvey to be the “greatest woman of the Negro race of that time”. 

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DYK that on MoorStory365 that on October 29, 1860 we remember Henrietta Vinton Davis. She was an Alkebulan AbyaYala actress and an international leader of the Garvey movement. Born in Baltimore in 1860, to Mansfield and Ann Johnson Davis, she taught school in Maryland and Louisiana, and in 1878 became the first Black woman employed at the Office of the Recorder of Deeds in Washington District of Columbia, where she worked as an assistant to Frederick Douglass. Davis’ dramatic career began in 1883, and over the next decade she traveled widely as an elocutionist, attracting large audiences with her work by Dunbar, Shakespeare, and others.

She started her own company in Chicago in 1893, traveling to the Caribbean, and collaborated on writing “Our Old Kentucky Home.” Her connections in Jamaica and her friendship with Marcus Garvey attracted her to the Universal Negro Improvement Association in 1918. Her experience as an actress were an effective communication vehicle with the ideals of the Garvey movement, though she became disillusioned with its mission later on.

Henrietta Vinton Davis died November 23, 1941. Henrietta Vinton Davis (August 25, 1860 – November 23, 1941) was an African-American elocutionist, dramatist, and impersonator. In addition to being “the premier actor of all nineteenth-century black performers on the dramatic stage”, Davis was proclaimed by Marcus Garvey to be the “greatest woman of the Negro race today”. She has come to be considered the physical, intellectual, and spiritual link between the abolitionist movement of Frederick Douglass and the African Redemption Movement of the UNIA-ACL and Marcus Garvey.

Henrietta Vinton Davis was born in Baltimore to musician Mansfield Vinton and Mary Ann (née Johnson) Davis. Shortly after her birth her father died. Within six months her mother had remarried to an influential Baltimorean, George A. Hackett, a member of Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church and worked to defeat the 1859 Jacobs bill (General Assembly passed Jacobs bill to enslave free blacks, but measure failed referendum.) crafted to enslave the children of free Africans and deport their parents from the state of Maryland.


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