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Legends remembered: Maya Angelou and Ruby Dee


For almost a decade, the Leimert Park Village Book Fair has celebrated African American arts and culture and those talented individuals responsible for bringing the written word to life. In keeping with that tradition, the eighth annual event will pay a tribute to poet Maya Angelou and actress Ruby Dee. The book fair, which takes place from 10 a.m.—6 p.m. on Saturday, Aug. 9, at the Baldwin Hills Crenshaw Plaza, will also debut the Jessie Redmon Fauset Book Awards.

It could be argued that no commemoration of the written word in African America literature would be complete without the mention of Dr. Maya Angelou. One of the most renowned and prolific voices of our time, she was truly an American treasure. In addition to mastering the art of poetry, Dr. Angelou was a celebrated memoirist, novelist, educator, dramatist, producer, actress, dancer, historian, filmmaker and civil rights activist.

Her critically acclaimed 1970 memoir, “I know why the Caged Bird Sings,” was nominated for the National Book Award, remained on the New York Times bestseller list for two years, and has sold approximately four million copies. The list of her published verse, non-fiction and fiction includes more than 30 best-selling titles.

Most known for her acting career, Ruby Dee was also a poet, playwright, screenwriter, journalist and activist. She is perhaps best known for her roles in “A Raisin in the Sun,” “Do the Right Thing,” “Jungle Fever” and the long-running soap opera, “The Guiding Light.”

In 2008, at the age of 83, Dee was nominated for an Academy Award for her portrayal in “American Gangster” with Denzel Washington. She was the second oldest actress to be nominated for an Oscar.

Dee was also an early supporter of the Civil Rights Movement. She was an active member of the NAACP, Congress of Racial Equality (CORE), Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee and the Southern Christian Leadership Council (SCLC).  In 1989, she and her husband, the late actor Ossie Davis, were voted into the NAACP Image Award Hall of Fame. The couple were also recipients of the Kennedy Center Honors and the American National Medal of the Arts from the National Endowment of the Arts in Washington, D.C.

In an effort to recognize literary excellence in today’s writers, the Leimert Park Village Book Fair will introduce the Jessie Redmon Fauset Book Awards. Jessie Redmon Fauset was a female African American editor, poet, essayist and novelist. The author of four novels as well poetry and non-fiction, Faucet was known as one of the most best women novelists of the Harlem Renaissance. The Jessie Redmon Fauset Book Awards will honor the best entries in the categories of general fiction, non-fiction, poetry/spoken word, children/young readers and youth/teen/young adults.

“It’s an honor to coordinate Leimert Park Village Book Fair’s first Jessie Redmon Fauset Book Awards,” said awards director Annette Thomas. “We’ve received more than 60 entries from all over the country. Some of the top publishing houses have submitted entries. It’s going to be a close competition and we’re very excited,” said Thomas.

In addition to the tributes and awards, the fair will feature an array of exciting events, activities and programs that focus on the literary and cultural contributions based on this year’s theme, “1970-1979: The Decade of Self-Expression.”

The annual Legacy Awards will recognize “Good Times” creator and award-winning screenwriter, Eric Monte (“Cooley High,”  “The Jeffersons,” “All in the Family”); legendary musician/philanthropist Stevie Wonder; and actress Marla Gibbs.

For additional information on events and activities, call (323) 730-0628 or visit