Thursday, February 7, 2008

Henrietta Vinton Davis
Henrietta Vinton Davis (August 15, 1860 - November 23, 1941) was an American elocutionist, dramatist, and impersonator.
Lady Davis was proclaimed by Marcus Garvey to be the "greatest woman of the (African) 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 (Johnson) Davis. Shortly after her birth her father died. Within six months her mother was remarried to influential Baltimorean George A. Hackett. Hackett was a member of Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church and worked to defeat the 1859 Jacobs bill which intended to enslave the children of free Africans and deport their parents from the state of Maryland.
Hackett died in April of 1870 after a short illness. Upon his death Mary Ann Hackett moved with her daughter Henrietta to Washington, D.C., where Henrietta received her public school education. At the early age of fifteen she passed the necessary examination and was awarded the position of a teacher in the public schools of Maryland.
After a period of time teaching in Maryland, she went to teach in the state of Louisiana. She later returned to Maryland to care for her ailing mother bearing with her the certificate of the Board of Education. In 1878, and only in her late teens, she became the first African-American woman employed by the Office of the Recorder of Deeds in Washington, D.C. under George A. Sheridan as a copyist. In 1881 Frederick Douglass was appointed Recorder of Deeds.

UNIA-ACL membership
By 1932 she broke with Garvey and became first Assistant President General of the rival UNIA, Inc. In the 1934 convention she was elected President of the rival organization.
On November 23, 1941 she died in Saint Elizabeth's Hospital, Washington, D.C., at the age of eighty-one years. She is buried in National Harmony Memorial Park in Largo, Maryland.

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