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Donzaleigh Abernathy  

Daughter of Rev. Ralph Abernathy, Award-Winning Actress & Writer

Donzaleigh Abernathy was born in the midst of the American Civil Rights Movement to Mrs. Juanita Jones and Reverend Dr. Ralph David Abernathy, who created with their best friend, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., a nonviolent social movement which changed the course of American History. Abernathy’s in-depth knowledge and participation in all of the major Civil Rights Marches as well as witnessing integral decisions being made that helped to shape American laws and society make her a powerful voice in today’s discussions on race and equality.

Abernathy was given the distinguished honor of introducing Rosa Parks at one of her last public appearances for the 45th Anniversary of the Montgomery Bus Boycott Banquet. She also introduced Coretta Scott King and Dawn Steele, the first female President of a Motion Picture Studio for the Women's Federation for World Peace.

In 2004, Abernathy’s first book, Partners To History, Martin Luther King, Ralph David Abernathy and the Civil Rights Movement, was nominated as one of the “Best Books for Young Adults” by the American Library Association. Later, Emory University’s Brave New Works Project produced her screenplay, in which she starred based on a chapter in her book.

For four years, Abernathy starred in Lifetime Television’s critically acclaimed series, Any Day Now, weekly portraying a character from age thirty and age seventy. Television audiences may also know her from her recurring roles on the series, The Walking Dead, Lincoln Heights, Dangerous Minds, House, 24 and Amazing Grace.

Abernathy took the role as leading lady in the Golden Globe and Emmy Award winning HBO film, Don King- Only in America, opposite Golden Globe winner, Ving Rhames. She also starred in the HBO Emmy and Golden Globe winning Miss Evers Boys with Emmy winner, Alfre Woodward and in NBC’s The Tempest opposite Academy Award winner, Peter Fonda. She starred as a lead in the Directors’ Guild of America Awarded winning, Murder in Mississippi.

She received the 2012 Tanne Foundation Award for her work as an Actress and Writer. Abernathy also gained acclaim from Film Critic Roger Ebert for her performance as “Martha-the slave" in Warner Bros. Studio’s Civil War Epic, Gods and Generals, directed by Ron Maxwell.

She has appeared on various radio and talk shows from CNN, FOX Morning Show (NY), to Politically Incorrect. In addition to her career as an actress, she has worked as Environmentalist, for the Centers for Disease Control HIV/AIDS Awareness Program, Amnesty International, Artists for a New South Africa and served as a Founding Trustees for the New Visions Foundation and the former Vice President of the Board of New Roads Schools of Santa Monica. Her life is profiled in the books No Mountain High Enough and Fearless Women.


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Speech Topics

MLK & Ralph Abernathy: A Personal Reflection

Children of Selma: A Dialogue with the Daughters of George Wallace & Rev. Ralph Abernathy


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