Theatre/the Arts

Those who serve as Black examples in dance, painting, sculptor, stage performance, and more.

Fred Benjamin, a true stage presence

Fred Benjamin

Fred Benjamin was born on this date in 1944. He was an African American dancer, choreographer, and instructor.

He was born in Boston, and began dancing at age four at Elma Lewis' School of Fine Arts in Roxbury. He danced with the Talley Beatty Company from 1963 until 1966, when the company folded. Two years later, he started his own New York-based Fred Benjamin Dance Company, which existed, largely without funding, for 20 years. Like most African-American choreographers of the time, his work was compared to that of Alvin Ailey, but Benjamin modeled himself after his idol, Beatty.

Ulysses Kay, one of Arizona's finest

Ulysses Kay

*Ulysses Kay was born on this date in 1917. He was an African American musician and composer.

Carol Channing, entertainer coming home

Carol Channing

*Carol Channing was born on this date in 1921. She is an African American actress.

She was born in Seattle, Washington. When she left home to attend Bennington College, her mother informed her that her father, a journalist whom she had believed was born in Rhode Island, was actually a light-complected African-American born in Augusta, Georgia who had passed for white, saying that the only reason she was telling her was so she wouldn't be surprised "if she had a black baby".

Lloyd Richards produced for media and the stage

Lloyd Richards

Lloyd Richards was born this date in 1919. He was an African American film, theater, and video director.

He was born in Toronto, Canada, but at an early age his family moved to Detroit. Lloyd Richards was only nine years old when his father died, leaving his mother to raise five children during the Depression. To make matters worse, soon after his mother became blind. At 13, young Lloyd went to work to help support the struggling family.

Ed Bullins, playright and creator of life on stage

Ed Bullins

Ed Bullins, an African American playwright and author, was born on this date in 1935.

Judith Jamison, modern dancer, artistic director

Judith Jamison

Judith Jamison was born on this date in 1943. She is an African American modern dancer, dance director, educator and author.

Ellis Wilson, gifted with brush in hand

Ellis Wilson

The birth of Ellis Wilson in 1899 is marked on this date. He was an African American artist.

Lou Stovall, master printmaker and community builder

Lou Stoval

Lou Stovall, an African American master printmaker and artist, was born on this date in 1937.

Born in Athens, Georgia, he grew up in Springfield, MA, where he attended Technical High School. Stovall initially studied art at the Rhode Island School of Design and at Howard University where he received a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree. Since 1962, he has lived and worked in Washington, D.C. Over the years he has won numerous awards, but perhaps his most enduring legacy is his work in the community.

Leona Mitchell has a beautiful voice

Leona Mitchell

Leona Mitchell was born on this date in 1949. She is known worldwide as one of the greatest African American sopranos to ever perform in opera houses and an Oklahoma Music Hall of Fame inductee.

First Tony Award for dramatic lead goes to a Black woman

Phylicia Rashad
(as Lena Younger)

On this date in 2004, the first Black actress won a “Tony Award” for a leading dramatic role.

Phylicia Rashad made the theatrical history. She received the prize for her portrayal of Lena Younger, the tough-minded matriarch in a revival of "A Raisin in the Sun."