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 Welcome to the

John P. Davis Collection's Web site.

More than a showcase for our endeavors in illuminating

the life and work of the renowned civil rights attorney and

founding publisher of the first African American national

magazine - Our World. This authoritative record on Davis's

 life includes voluminous documents we have collected to

date and tried to make accessible to you. There are many

collections of Davis' work; we have tried to compile online

documents for easy access. Hopefully, this level of effort will

serve as an introduction John P. Davis.

 

 

 I viewed Oprah Winfrey’s legend ball on ABC and I thought - I

lived my life surrounded by legends in my family circle, my

church circle and my community circle. I am honored and

 privileged to come from a legacy of legends. My grandfather's

vision for fair and sustainable growth for all people - is apart of

my own worked with Global Latitudes

 

In 1943 the first lawsuit challenging segregated schools in the nation’s

capital was brought in my dad’s name, Michael D. Davis by my

grandfather, John P. Davis.  The Washington Star was sharply

critical of an African American lawyer legally challenging the

District Dual school system when the principal of Noyes School

refused to admit my dad at the age of 5-years old. The Washington Star

 paper said the District citizens had long accepted separate schools for

blacks and whites and that the suit brought by John P. Davis would

cause even deeper divisions in the nation’s capital. 

 

The U.S. Congress in response to my grandfather's suit appropriated federal

funds to construct the Lucy D. Slowe elementary school directly across the

street from his Brookland home.  

 

Ralph McGill, the “Conscious of the South” Publisher of the Atlanta

Constitution, hired my father Mike Davis as the first African-American  reporter in the

early sixties. This was at a time when you could count the number of African-American

reporters covering big assignments on white- owned papers on the fingers

of one hand. Ralph McGill became his mentor and  friend. 

 

Black women had never served in the United States Navy and in 1917,

my great-grandfather, Dr. William H. Davis,  convinced Secretary Baker

to establish the first Navy office staffed by black women. The 16 black

Yeomane­ttes, who were enlisted personnel and wore official U.S. Navy

uniforms, worked in the Muster Roll division at Washin­gton's Navy Yard

under the command of John T. Risher, a member of the city's African-American

middle class. They were respon­sible for tracking the movement of war ships

and the Navy men who sailed them and assuring that their benefits and

paychecks were paid on time.

 

The 16 members of the African-American Yeomanettes included several

women from Washington's middle class African-American families,

Catalina Boyd, Josie Washington and Ruth Osbourne, who would become

the grand­mother of President William Jefferson Clinton's Secretary of Commerce,

Ronald Harmon Brown. My great-granfather, William Davis was especially proud

of his nineteen-year-old daugh­ter, Yeomane­tte Sara Louise Davis. Aunt Sara went

 on to attend Simmons College and Howard University. She obtained a  Masters in

social work and loved to talk about her personal mentor E. Franklin Frazier.

 

Rachel Davis Harris was the first African American woman library department

director in Kentucky. She was the children's librarian at the Louisville Western

Colored Branch Library and later became the manager of the Eastern Colored

Branch Library. Aunt Rachel also assisted with the development of Georgetown

 Colored Library (KY) and the Lincoln Institute Library. Aunt Rachel was a colleague

 of Thomas Fountain Blue, and when he died in 1935, she became the new director

 of the Louisville Public Library Colored Department.

 

Alice Watkins Garrett was the first African American Dental graduate

of Howard University Dental School.  Aunt Alice was my paternal great-great aunt.

 

Both my dad and I had  a child’s  -eye view of some of America’s most powerful

people when they were at leisure, with their guards down, away from the glaring

spotlights of media and public forums. Dad fished for sea bass, flounder and

 porgies off Montauk Point with Ralph Bunche Jr, and Adam Clayton Powell Jr.;

Langston Hughes edited one of his obligatory “: summer experiences” essays.

Lena Horne sung him to sleep.

 

 Dr. Benjamin Elijah Mays, my grandfather’s friend, entertained me on summer

weekends at the age of 80 + in 1981.  I watched Dr. Dorothy Height jump for joy

in 2001 when she found out I was Johnny’s child.  I saw Das Boot with President

 Jimmy Carter in 1983 in a Buckhead Theater in Atlanta, GA.  My first foreign film

 experience. My mentor was the first African-American Mayor of Atlanta, Ga,

Maynard Holbrook Jackson, who never failed to request me to recite a recent

oratorical win. I loved and respected Bunny (Bernice) and Dexter’s mom,

Corretta Scott King.  I relished the memory that my mom, Dollie Davis,  

took me to Dr. King’s funeral.

 

A legacy of legends - and So I smile at the opportunity to share my legacy of

legends with you.

 

We are working at warp speed to ensure you have the online access to articles,

 picture, and documents of John P. Davis.  We remain focused on our commitment

to sharing as much information as possible. Our mission is collaborative to the core,

appropriate to the audience, on time and with love. Please read and enjoy, if you

have any questions submit a scholar's inquiry or contact us as info@johnpdaviscollection.org.

 

 

 

 

 

Peace be with you,

Michelle DeMond Davis

Chairman, John P. Davis Collection

© 2006, The John P. Davis Collection, All Rights Reserved
| (202) 595-9150





 

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