37th Life Achievement Recipient, 2000

Ossie Davis and Ruby Dee

Award acceptance speech:?
[standing ovation]

RUBY DEE: Oh, thank you, thank you. Well, well, thank you. Thank you. Thank you. [applause continues] Thank you.

OSSIE DAVIS: Thank you.

DEE: Thank you.

DAVIS: Here we are in Hollywood.

DEE: Yes.

DAVIS: In heaven.

DEE: As close to laughter as we are to tears.

DAVIS: We thank you.

DEE: Thank you, thank you.

DAVIS AND DEE: We thank you.

DEE: For the plaudits of our union and our peers.

DAVIS: Celebrities, we are, and stars, we actors. Peace workers on the Hollywood plantation. [laughter] But that is not all. We are more than that.

DEE: We are artists also, and workers above all. We are image makers. Why can’t we image makers become peacemakers, too. Why cannot we, in such a time as this, use all the magic of our vaunted powers to lift the pistol from the schoolboy’s backpack? [applause]??And replace it with bright images of peace, with images of hope and faith in humankind. Of life lit by some large vision of goodness and beauty and truth?

DAVIS: Artists, we are, but we are citizens also. And as free men and women living in a democracy, we cannot escape our First Amendment obligation to our children. To elevate by precept and example–

DEE: To lead.

DAVIS: To inspire.

DEE: And to challenge.

DAVIS: To touch their hearts and minds

DEE: With love’s redeeming fire.

DAVIS: This is our right.

DEE: Our duty.

DAVIS: This is our privilege.

DEE: Tonight, again, we profoundly thank you.

DAVIS: Thank you.

DEE: Again and again.