Choreographer and activist Alvin Ailey was born on January 5, 1931, in Rogers, Texas.
At the age of 12 he moved to Los Angeles and began studying modern dance with Lester Horton. Ailey made his broadway debut in the 1954 musical house of flowers and performed in many shows after that. His greatest success would come from his own dance company, the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater which he founded in 1958. The multiracial company became hugely popular while touring the world and performing for millions.
Ailey was honored by the Kennedy Center for his contributions to the arts in 1988.