It's a terrible month for African-American icons—first Maya Angelou, and now legendary actress/poet/civil rights pioneer Ruby Dee has died, at 91.
Dee, the widow of actor Ossie Davis, died at home.
She is probably most famous for her part in the 1961 movie version of A Raisin in the Sun (a production of which is riding high currently on Broadway following much Tonys love), but had a long career, with parts in Spike Lee films, a memorable guest spot on The Golden Girls and appearances in films and on TV until very recently. One of her largest recent parts was as Denzel Washington's mother in American Gangster (2007).
Dee's participation in the civil rights movement was widely known. She and her husband were friends with both Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X.