Celebrating ‘Dance Lady’ Ruth Beckford, teacher, actor, Katherine Dunham biographer, Oakland’s 2018 Mother of the Year, a founder of Black Panther Breakfast Program

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Ruth Beckford – Photo: Gene Hazzard by Brenda Payton Ruth Beckford, the legendary dancer, choreographer and Oakland community activist, died May 8 of natural causes. She was 93. Beckford, known as The Dance Lady, toured with the acclaimed dancer-choreographer Katharine Dunham when she was just 17. She started the Ruth Beckford African Haitian Dance Company, taught Dunham technique at her dance studios in Oakland and San Francisco and started the first modern dance department at a recreation department in the country. As talented as she was as a dancer, her interests were wide-ranging:...