Today is Viola Davis's 55th birthday—and she bought herself quite a gift. "The above is the house where I was born August 11, 1965," the actor captioned a post shared on Instagram today. "It is the birthplace of my story. Today on my 55th year of life....I own it....all of it."
The above is the house where I was born August 11, 1965. It is the birthplace of my story. Today on my 55th year of life....I own it....all of it. ・・・ "May you live long enough to know why you were born.” -Cherokee Birth Blessing-
A post shared by VIOLA DAVIS (@violadavis) on Aug 11, 2020 at 8:15am PDT
The purchase is especially meaningful given the property's history: In a 2015 interview with Glamour, Davis revealed that the home, located in St. Matthews, South Carolina, was once a slave plantation. The actor spent her early childhood there with her five siblings in extreme poverty—an experience that led her to become an active advocate for ending childhood hunger.
Davis's reclaiming of a property that once played host to the atrocities of American slavery comes at a time when the country is undergoing an increased reckoning with systemic racism.
A month ago, Broadway star Robert Hartwell made a similarly significant purchase, buying a home built by enslaved people and vowing to "fill it with love."
"I wish I could’ve told my ancestors when they were breaking their backs in 1820 to build this house that 200 years later a free gay black man was going to own it," Hartwell said in an Instagram post.
Davis didn't immediately share her plans for the future of her home, but underscored the importance of its role in her life by including the words to a Cherokee birth blessing in her caption: "May you live long enough to know why you were born."
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