The elder Davis to be inducted into state Civil Rights Hall of Fame
Edward Daniel Davis, Sr., was an author, educator and businessman best known for unyielding civil rights crusades that, among other actions, helped desegregate the University of Florida (UF); raise the salary of African-American teachers and force UF’s law school to enroll minority students.
Mr. Davis is also the great-grandfather of Council Chair Pro-Tem Terence ‘T.D.’ Davis, who will be in Tallahassee Wednesday, May 13 when the elder Mr. Davis is inducted into the Florida Civil Rights Hall of Fame.
“My great-grandfather accomplished a lot, but he also suffered through a lot—harassment, a firebombing, attempted assassination,” Councilman Davis said. “But nothing deterred him. Nothing stopped him. That is immensely inspiring to me.”
Mr. Davis was born and raised in Thomasville, Ga. and spent his adult life in Ocala. He was the first black in the state to earn a Master’s degree (from Northwestern University in 1934) and, along with eventual Supreme Court member Thurgood Marshall, worked for years to provide equal education for black children. The two men would continue a years-long relationship, fighting together for human and civil rights. Mr. Davis would found the Florida State Teachers Association.
He was also a founder and two-term president of the Florida State Conference of NAACP and founded the Florida Voter League which was instrumental in registering the state’s first black voters and, ultimately, more than 300,000 voters. He died in 1989; a year later, a stretch of State Road 441 in Orange County was named for him.
Gov. Scott chose Mr. Davis, along with former Gov. Reubin O’D Askew and Sallye B. Mathis from a list of 10 nominees by the Florida Commission on Human Relations for making significant contributions to the improvement of life for minorities and all citizens of Florida. For more information, visit www.flgov.com.