It’s not easy being the first to break through social and professional barriers, especially back in the turbulent sixties. Nevertheless, someone has to step up, take the risks, suffer the insults and the rejections, and Belva Davis did that to become the first black female television journalist/anchor in the western United States. Davis tells her incredible story of rising from the projects of Oakland to become an award winning television reporter, known around the world, in her new book out today.
“Never in My Wildest Dreams: A Black Woman’s Life in Journalism,” was written with Bay Area journalist, Vicki Haddock. In this memoir, Davis looks back on her incredible career, which includes covering such important stories as the 1964 Republican Convention, where she was verbally and physically assaulted, to the murders of San Francisco Mayor George Moscone and Supervisor Harvey Milk, to the outbreak of the AIDS epidemic to the 9-11 terrorist attacks and to the historic election of Barack Obama as President of the United States in 2008.
Davis continues to observe and cover some of the major stories of the day for one of the nation’s top PBS stations, KQED.
Along her journey, Davis has traveled the world and met cultural and political icons like Frank Sinatra, Malcolm X, Alex Haley, Black Panther leader Huey Newton, and Cuba’s Fidel Castro. Entertainer Bill Cosby says this about the pioneer journalist: “Belva Davis was someone who sustained us, who made us proud … She was the first woman of color that many viewers came to know and trust, and she met that challenge with integrity and dignity and grace.”
I went from a proud fan watching Davis on television to a young journalist inspired and mentored by her. In fact, a co-worker at a station in San Jose, my first job after college, recommended me to Davis and that led to my first real television newsroom job at KPIX in San Francisco. I moved up quickly from production assistant to writer and to producer of the noon news, where one of my co-anchors was the legendary Belva Davis. In a short time, I was off to Southern California for a position as a newswriter/occasional field producer at KNBC-TV. I never forgot the lessons learned working with Davis at KPIX.
Today Davis launches a book tour for “Never in My Wildest Dreams” with appearances in San Francisco, Atlanta, Washington, DC, Chicago, New York, and here in Southern California: including stops at Vroman’s bookstore in Pasadena on February 28, Agape International Spiritual Center in Culver City on February 27, and Eso Won bookstore in Los Angeles on March 1.