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I used to want the words 'She tried' on my tombstone. Now I want 'She did it.'

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Apr 18, 2015

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Random Person of the Day: Katherine Mary Dunham

Katherine Mary Dunham

Katherine Mary Dunham

Katherine Mary Dunham (22 June 1909 - 21 May 2006) was a mixed race dancer, choreographer, songwriter, author, educator and activist who was trained as an anthropologist. Her father was an African-American Business man, and her mother a woman of mixed race, i.e. French-Canadian and Native American. She has been called the Matriarch and Queen Mother of Black Dance, and had one of the most successful dance careers in American and European theater of the 20th century. During her heyday in the 1940s, 50s and 60s she was renowned throughout Europe and Latin America as La Grande Katherine, and the Washington Post called her "Dance's Katherine the Great." For more than 30 years she maintained the Katherine Dunham Dance Company, the only permanent, self-subsidized American black dance troupe at that time, and over her long career she choreographed more than 90 individual dances. Dunham was an innovator in African-American modern dance as well as a leader in the field of Dance Anthropology, or Ethno choreology (see also Dance Studies). In 1992, at the age of 82, Katherine Dunham went on a highly publicized 47-day hunger strike to protest what she condemned as the discriminatory U.S. foreign policy against Haitian boat-people. She died in her sleep in New York City on 21 May 2006.

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