Women's Activism NYC

Raven Wilkinson

1935 - 2018

By: Deborah Fudge-Rhem | Date Added:

Raven Wilkinson was born on February 2 1935 in Manhattan and grew up in Harlem the daughter of Frost B. a dentist and mother Anne a homemaker. Raven attended her first ballet at age 5 and fell in love with the art form.Raven took ballet lessons from Maria Swoboda a Russian teacher who had been a member of the Bolshoi ballet. On her fourth try she was admitted in the Ballet Russe on a trial basis. As seasons passed a series of unpleasant racial incidents occured when the troupe toured in the southern states. Raven never wavered and said her company members supported her all the way. Many of the discrimination incidents disheartened her and she finally left the company in 1961. In 1967 she auditioned with Dutch National Ballet and danced with the troupe for 7 years. Missing home Raven returned to NYC in 1973 and in the next year joined the NYC opera serving as a member of the ballet ensemble. She stayed until the company's demise in 2011. I met Raven in 2013 when she attended a meeting of Delta Alpha Gamma with our mutual friend Dr. Jean Loyd. I found her to be friendly and full of knowledge about the world. What was suppose to be a chat after themeeting for just a few minutes ended up a two hour conversation about race relations, the discipline of dance, traveling the world, and growing up and living in NYC. I was so happy to hear that she became a mentor for Misty Copeland and appeared in Misty's Documentary. I am so happy to have met her and I am really beyond proud that a children's book has been written about her life for generations to come to know how important she was. There is a book titled "Trailblazer: The Story of Ballerina Raven Wilkinson" by Leda Schubert.

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