Donzaleigh Abernathy

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Donzaleigh Abernathy
Donzaleigh Abernathy speaker at Virginia Military Institute.jpg
Donzaleigh Abernathy speaking at the Virginia Military Institute
BornAugust 5, 1957 (1957-08-05) (age 61)
Alma materEmerson College
OccupationActress, author, civil rights activist
Years active1990–present
Home townAtlanta, Georgia
Parent(s)Ralph Abernathy
Juanita Jones Abernathy

Donzaleigh Abernathy is an American actress, author and civil rights activist.[1][2][3]

Early life[edit]

Abernathy was born in Montgomery, Alabama and grew up in Atlanta, Georgia during the Civil Rights Movement. The Abernathy children, along with the King children, integrated Spring Street Elementary School and began mass integration in the South. Abernathy briefly attended the Northside High School for the Performing Arts, before attended and graduated from George School, a Quaker Prep School in Bucks County, Pennsylvania.[4]

Her father was Rev. Ralph Abernathy, an influential leader in the Civil Rights Movement. She was able to join her father, her mother Juanita Jones Abernathy and witness first-hand many significant events of the Civil Rights Movement.[5] Her family was very close to that of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., another prominent figure of the Civil Rights Movement. The Abernathy and King children went to school together, performed extracurricular activities together, spent Sunday Dinners together, vacations and various holidays together. According to Abernathy herself, children from both families would hold performances for their parents on these occasions with Yolanda King, one of King's daughters, acting as the director and Dr. King filming the performances. Abernathy acknowledges that "that's really when [she] started acting."[6] She is married to actor/producer Dar Dixon Bijarchi.[2]


After graduating from Emerson College in Boston, Abernathy moved to New York. She landed her first job after auditioning for a role with the Off Off Broadway production.[6] Since then, Abernathy has played roles in many different movies and television series. In the historical drama Gods and Generals, she portrays a slave named Martha. Although the film itself was not critically well-received, Abernathy was praised for her part. One reviewer states that "Abernathy's image of Martha combines strength with glamour." She starred for four years as a series regular on Lifetime's Any Day Now. As a child of the South, Abernathy was heavily influenced by the civil rights movement. As a result, she was able to connect with the role on a personal level.[7] Donzaleigh Abernathy claims she was filming a scene with Omar Epps in May 2016 for the USA show "Shooter" where his character was supposed to murder her character, when he "completely deviated from the script" and "threw his left forearm with full force at [her] right arm," and broke it. Abernathy is suing Epps, along with Paramount Pictures, for negligence and assault and battery. She's asking for damages for her pain and suffering and wants her medical costs -- present and future -- covered.[8]



The 2001 Smithsonian Institute’s book of essays, “In the spirit of Martin: the living legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr." Donzaleigh Abernathy was one of the contributing authors.[9] In 2003, she authored the book "Partners to history: Martin Luther King, Jr., Ralph David Abernathy, and the civil rights movement" in honor of her parents.[10]


  • Partners to History: Martin Luther King Jr., Ralph David Abernathy, and the Civil Rights Movement (Crown, 2003) ISBN 978-0-609-60914-9
  • In the spirit of Martin: the living legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. (Tinwood Books, 2002) ISBN 978-0965376655


  1. ^ "Donzaleigh Abernathy: A Connection with Martin Luther King Jr". Retrieved 2010-01-25.
  2. ^ a b "Donzaleigh Abernathy". National Action Network Annual Convention. Retrieved 2017-07-05.
  3. ^ "Donzaleigh Abernathy". Museum of Social Justice | Los Angeles. Retrieved 2017-07-05.
  4. ^ "Georgian Available Online - George School". George School. 2015-12-14. Retrieved 2017-07-05.
  5. ^ "Donzaleigh Abernathy". Literature Resource Center. 2008. Retrieved 2015-04-04.
  6. ^ a b "Ralph Abernathy's daughter, Donzaleigh, gets role in TV western drama, 'Ned Blessing'". Jet Magazine. 84: 38–39. 23 August 1993.
  7. ^ Pryce, Vinette K. (13 February 2003). "Civil rights daughter fights civil war for 'Gods and Generals'". New York Amsterdam News. Retrieved 2015-04-04.
  8. ^
  9. ^ "Catalog: In the spirit of Martin : the living legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr". Ann Arbor District Library. Retrieved 2017-07-05.
  10. ^ "Partners to history : Martin Luther King, Jr., Ralph David Abernathy, and the civil rights movement". Toronto Public Library. Retrieved 2017-07-05.

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