vonetta mcgee

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Buzzfeed: “17 Black Women Who Deserve their own Biopics”

Not enough roles for black women in Hollywood? Let’s make some!

1. Thandie Newton/Alice Walker, 2. Amber Riley/Aretha Franklin, 3. Kerry Washington/Vonetta McGee, 4. Lupita Nyong'o/Grace Jones, 5. Mo'Nique/Hattie McDaniel, 6. Oprah Winfrey/Mary McLeod Bethune, 7. Regina Hall/Moms Mabley, 8. Teyonah Parris/Assata Shakur, 9. Viola Davis/Shirley Chisholm, 10. Jurnee Smollett/Eartha Kitt

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A few Black actresses from 1900s-1980s. Some have shaken the foundation of Old Hollywood, and others have carved out a place in contemporary films. 

I never felt the chance to rise above the role of a maid in Hollywood movies. My color was against me. The fact that I was not ‘hot’ stamped me as either an uppity 'Negress’ or relegated me to the eternal role of stooge or servant. I can sing but so can hundreds of other girls. My ambitions are to be an actress. Hollywood had no parts for me.” Theresa Harris +

“You cannot leave this show! Do you not understand what you are doing?! You are the first non-stereotypical role in television! Of intelligence, and of a woman and a woman of color?! That you are playing a role that is not about your color! That this role could be played by anyone? This is not a black role. This is not a female role! A blue eyed blond or a pointed ear green person could take this role!”. MLK to Nichelle Nichols, who was planning on leaving Star Trek +

“I have never tried to pass for white and never had any desire. I am proud of my race. In Imitation of Life. I was showing how a girl might feel under the circumstances but I am not showing how I felt. I was slightly uncomfortable while making the scene where I stood before the mirror asking, “Am I not white?” No person who strives to be the least bit intelligent should allow a thing like color, something for which none of us is responsible, to mar his life or influence his judgment.” Fredi Washington +

UPDATED: This photo, entitled “Six Women” (actress Vonetta McGee is second from the right) was taken by David S. Johnson, the premier chronicler of Black life in San Francisco in the 1950s and 1960s. Mr. Johnson photographed luminaries including Nat “King” Cole and Eartha Kitt and documented historic events including voter registration drives, the March on Washington and other activities in the Civil Rights Movement in the San Francisco area. Born in Jacksonville, Florida in 1926, Mr. Johnson was the first Black student of photography icon Ansel Adams and a graduate of the first fine art photography program in the United States at California School of Fine Arts (now the San Francisco Art Institute). Today, Mr. Johnson is in his 80’s and still lives and works in the Bay Area. Thanks to Maya DeRoche and Sally Dupre for the updated information.

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I saw this photo on Tumblr recently, described (incorrectly) as models in a fashion show in San Francisco’s Union Square circa 1950s. This can’t be the 1950s (it is definitely late 1960s) and I know this because of the presence of actress, Vonetta McGee (1945-2010) who is second from the right. If anyone has any further information on this shot (photographer, names of the other models) please let me know in the comment section.