Donzaleigh Abernathy began her life in the midst of the Civil Rights Movement as the youngest daughter of its co-founder, Reverend Ralph David Abernathy and his wife Juanita. Her Uncle Martin, Martin Luther King, Jr. christened her as a baby in her first religious service. Raised in the public forefront of the Civil Rights Movement, she attended all of the major marches and had a bird's eye view from her parent's various homes which were the gathering places for her father and his best friend, Martin Luther King.
In honor of their friendship, which created the Civil Right Movement, Donzaleigh authored the pictorial history book for Randomhouse/Crown Publishing entitled, "Partners To History." The book is a coffee table picture/text essay of American History. Robert F. Kennedy Jr., a childhood friend, wrote the Foreword honoring his father, former US Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy and his dedication to the Civil Rights Movement. Her book chronicles the loving friendship of her father, his dearest friend and their dedication to equality that changed the course of American History. The work covers the years prior to the Montgomery Bus Boycott to Martin's death in April 1968, then Ralph's leadership of the Poor Peoples Campaign to his death in April 1990. The book was nominated at one of the "Best Books of 2004" for Young Adults by the American Library Association."
Donzaleigh feels a moral obligation to accurately tell these stories of American History, so that future generations will know and understand the courage and sacrifices of these non-violent people who reigned victoriously in the most powerful American struggle for justice, equality and human dignity. Perhaps by telling the stories of these social atrocities, they may never be repeated in America again and historians will be able to write a more truthful accounting of Martin Luther King, Jr., Ralph David Abernathy and the Civil Rights Movement.
As an Actress, Donzaleigh starred as "Martha" the only slave in the Warner Bros. Motion Picture, Civil War Epic, "GODS AND GENERALS" directed by Ron Maxwell. She received critical acclaim for her performance from noted film critic Roger Ebert. She then starred as "Esmeralda" in the Lionsgate comedy, "LEPRECHAN 6 - BACK TO THE HOOD," as the newly engaged Karen in New Line Cinema's, "GRILLED," and the independent feature musical "RED RIDING HOOD."
For four years Donzaleigh (Don-za-lay) starred every week on Lifetime Television's critically acclaimed dramatic series, "ANY DAY NOW." Donzaleigh portrayed the dual role of "SARA", the 30 something freedom-fighting mother and the 70ish widowed senior citizen mother of Rene. Donzaleigh's role on Lifetime's critically acclaimed dramatic series was extremely rewarding and exceptionally challenging creatively because of the technical complexities of creating realistic characterization at different stages in a person's life.
Donzaleigh has starred in several Award winning television movies. She was the leading lady in HBO's "Don King: Only in America" which won an Emmy Award for Best TV Movie, Best Screenplay and a Golden Globe for the leading Man, Ving Rhames. In the NBC production of Shakespeare's "The Tempest," with the largest foreign sales, Donzaleigh plays Ezeli, the beautiful slave that saves the life of her master, Peter Fonda and gives him the gift of magic. Golden Globe recognized Fonda with a nomination. Donzaleigh also starred in the civil rights drama, "Murder in Mississippi" which won the Director Guild of America Award for director Roger Young, "Miss Evers Boys", which won Emmy, Golden Globe and Screen Actor's Guild awards for actress Alfre Woodard, and in Bill Wittliff's western, "Ned Blessing".
Most recently she has Guest Starred on "House", "Commander in Chief", (Six episodes), "The Closer", "Judging Amy", "Strong Medicine" and "24". She was a recurring lead in the short lived critically successful series, "EZ Streets", as an adulterous sexy politician, and in "Dangerous Minds" where she played a crack addicted mother. She has also Guest Starred on television shows such as, "Chicago Hope", "NYPD Blue" and "The Pretender."
In addition to Donzaleigh's career as an Actress/Author, she is actively involved with several social causes as an environmentalist, a spokesperson for the Centers for Disease Control AIDS Project and as a founding member of the New Visions Foundation, which created New Roads Schools, where she was the former Vice President of the Board of Trustees for New Roads Schools.
She was given the distinguished honor of speaking on the "Rule of Law" for the Judicial Division of the American Bar Association. She has lectured at Harvard University Law School – "The Saturday School," addressed Delegates at The United Nations for the Women's Federation for World Peace, University of Massachusetts at Dartmouth, University of Utah, University of Rochester (NY), Morgan State University, Virginia Military Institute, the United Methodist Church's National Conference, Xerox Corporation and the Dupont Corporation of Beaumont, Texas. She was honored as well to be chosen as the Commencement Speaker at Los Angeles Southwest College.
Her life is profiled in the books, "No Mountain High Enough" and "Fearless Women."
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