Abraham Lincoln Davis
Member of the New Orleans City Council
In office
1975–1977
Preceded byEddie Sapir
Succeeded byJim Singleton
Personal details
Born1914[1]
DiedJune 24, 1978(1978-06-24) (aged 63–64)
Political partyDemocratic[2]

Abraham Lincoln Davis Jr. (1914 – June 24, 1978) was an American minister and leader in the civil rights movement. He led voting drives and advocated for desegregation in New Orleans, Louisiana. In 1975, Davis became the first African American member of the New Orleans City Council since the Reconstruction era.

Early life

Davis was from Bayou Goula, Louisiana. His father was a Baptist minister.[3] He moved to New Orleans and graduated from McDonogh 35 High School.[2][4] He was ordained as the minister at the New Zion Baptist Church in New Orleans in 1935. He earned his Bachelor of Arts from Leland College in 1949 and earned an honorary Doctor of Divinity from the Union Baptist Theological Seminary.[2]

Civil rights movement

Davis became involved in the civil rights movement. In January 1957, he cofounded the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) with Martin Luther King Jr. and others in his church.[5] King served as the president of the SCLC, while Davis was vice president.[5] The Louisiana Leadership Conference, a satellite organization of the SCLC, was formed in March 1957, with Davis and T. J. Jemison elected as its co-chairs. Associated with the SCLC, they conducted voting registration drives for African Americans.[6]

Davis became involved in progressive politics; he supported DeLesseps Story Morrison, the mayor of New Orleans, Governor Robert F. Kennon, and Congressman Hale Boggs. He opposed Earl Long, leading a faction of anti-Long Democrats.[2] In 1961, Morrison named Davis the first director of race relations for the city.[7] Governor John McKeithen appointed Davis to a committee on race relations.[8]

Morrison's successor, Victor H. Schiro, resisted desegregation, and Davis led a march of 7,000 to 10,000 on city hall on September 30, 1963.[9][10] Later that week, he presented a list of demands to the New Orleans City Council.[11] He and Reverend Avery Alexander were arrested at a sit-in at city hall in November[12] and he continued to organize a sit-in in city hall's cafeteria and outside the mayor's office, with people getting arrested daily.[13] The campaign was halted after 47 were arrested, including members of the Congress of Racial Equality,[14] before Davis and Alexander got to meet with Schiro.[15] Ultimately, the group was able to win some progress on their demands, but not on all of them.[16]

Political career

Davis ran for the Louisiana House of Representatives in the 1967 elections.[17] He lost the December runoff election against incumbent Eugene O'Brien, receiving 4,324 votes to O'Brien's 4,442 votes.[18]

In 1975, Davis and Jim Singleton were put forward as replacement candidates to represent District B on the New Orleans City Council, following the resignation of Eddie Sapir to serve as a city judge. Davis won the appointment by a 6–1 vote. He became the first African American to serve on the New Orleans City Council since the Reconstruction era.[19] Davis won a special election for the remainder of Sapir's term in October 1976,[20] but lost the 1977 election for a new term to Singleton.[21]

Personal life

Davis had a daughter.[8] He died on June 24, 1978.[5]

References

  1. ^ "Davis, A.L. (Abraham Lincoln) (1914–1978)". Amistad Research Center.
  2. ^ a b c d Rousseau, John E. (February 7, 1959). "Four-Way Split: Too Many Factions Negate Louisiana Race Vote Power". The Pittsburgh Courier. p. 4. Retrieved September 6, 2022 – via Newspapers.com.
  3. ^ "N.O. Cleric Ardent Fighter: Pastor Battles Dixie Evils". The Pittsburgh Courier. May 18, 1963. p. 8. Retrieved September 9, 2022.
  4. ^ "Let's Elect A. L. Davis, Jr". The Louisiana Weekly. September 25, 1976. Retrieved September 6, 2022 – via Newspapers.com.
  5. ^ a b c "Rev. A. L. Davis; Founded Rights Unit With Dr. King in'57". The New York Times. June 26, 1978. Retrieved September 6, 2022.
  6. ^ "Negroes Launch Drive to Register 10,000 Voters". Daily World. Opelousas, Louisiana. United Press. March 17, 1957. Retrieved September 6, 2022 – via Newspapers.com.
  7. ^ "Rev. Davis Jr. Appointed To New Orleans Race Post". The Pittsburgh Courier. July 8, 1961. p. 4. Retrieved September 6, 2022 – via Newspapers.com.
  8. ^ a b "Rev. A. L. Davis Jr., cofounder of black rights group SCLC". St. Petersburg Times. June 26, 1978. p. 11B. Retrieved September 6, 2022 – via Newspapers.com.
  9. ^ "U.S. Sends 2 Legal Aides to Shreveport". The Town Talk. Alexandria, Louisiana. United Press International. October 2, 1963. p. 36. Retrieved September 6, 2022 – via Newspapers.com.
  10. ^ "Negroes March For 'Freedom' In New Orleans". The York Dispatch. United Press International. October 1, 1963. p. 1. Retrieved September 6, 2022 – via Newspapers.com.
  11. ^ "N.O. Council Hears Negroes' Demands". The Town Talk. United Press International. October 4, 1963. p. 7. Retrieved September 6, 2022 – via Newspapers.com.
  12. ^ "N.O. Negroes Plan Rally To Protest City's Inaction". The Town Talk. United Press International. November 4, 1963. p. 4. Retrieved September 7, 2022 – via Newspapers.com.
  13. ^ "City Hall Integration Drive Conducted by N.O. Negroes". The Town Talk. United Press International. November 6, 1963. p. 25. Retrieved September 7, 2022 – via Newspapers.com.
  14. ^ "'Direct Action' Leaders To Meet With Mayor Schiro". The Louisiana Weekly. November 16, 1963. p. 1. Retrieved September 7, 2022 – via Newspapers.com.
  15. ^ "7 Negro Leaders Meet With Schiro". The Town Talk. United Press International. November 15, 1963. p. 30. Retrieved September 7, 2022 – via Newspapers.com.
  16. ^ Rousseau, John E. (October 3, 1964). "Freedom Marchers Gain 3 Out of 5 Objectives". The Louisiana Weekly. p. 1. Retrieved September 7, 2022 – via Newspapers.com.
  17. ^ "Legislative Runoff Has 2 Negroes". The Daily Advertiser. Associated Press. November 5, 1967. p. 8. Retrieved September 6, 2022 – via Newspapers.com.
  18. ^ "Loses Bid For House Seat By Scant Margin". The Louisiana Weekly. December 23, 1967. p. 1. Retrieved September 6, 2022 – via Newspapers.com.
  19. ^ "N.O. Gets First Black Councilman". Daily World. Associated Press. January 17, 1975. p. 12. Retrieved September 6, 2022 – via Newwspapers.com.
  20. ^ Young, Ben (October 9, 1976). "Councilman A.L. Davis Is Convincing Winner: Tucker and Cates come up short". The Louisiana Weekly. p. 1. Retrieved September 6, 2022 – via Newspapers.com.
  21. ^ "Singleton Ousts Davis in Race". Daily World. United Press International. November 13, 1977. p. 8. Retrieved September 6, 2022 – via Newspapers.com.