Fredericka Washington was a Black actress and performer whose light skin and green eyes had a shocking impact on her life.

She Celebrated Her Black Heritage

In the early 1930s, Washington toured the South with Duke Ellington and his band. Everywhere they went, they faced segregation and prejudice. However, because of her fair complexion, Washington could slip into ice cream parlors that only allowed white customers and purchase sweet treats for the rest of the band. But this was as far as she went.

Unlike other actors in Hollywood, Washington never used her “passing” appearance to climb the ladder of success. Though rejecting her race and culture may have ensured her career, she chose to celebrate her Black heritage instead. As a result, her journey into the acting world was treacherous, especially after she came away with a bittersweet victory.

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