Book is both moving memoir and fascinating journey into U.S. history
Written by Belva Davis, with Vicki Haddock
Review by Carolyn Schurr Levin
To describe Belva Davis’ book simply as a memoir by the first black female news anchor in the United States is to ignore the inspiration and history lesson that this incredible book provides. Davis takes us on a journey, from her birth in 1932 in deeply segregated Monroe, La., during the Great Depression, through a lifetime filled with an uncanny ability to overcome obstacles and surpass even her own expectations, to the 21st century, when she has been honored with accolades and awards, including eight local Emmys and Lifetime Achievement Awards from the National Association of Black Journalists and the Northern California Television Academy. Her odyssey can only be described as extraordinary. Although it may not have been her intent when she set out to tell her story, Davis’ memoir surely can inspire young journalists to take on bigger, even seemingly insurmountable challenges, both professional and social.
Davis’ memories of her childhood are filled with sadness. Because her mother, a 14- year-old laundress earning $4 a week, and her father, also a teenager without formal education, working at a local sawmill, were unable to care for her, she became, in her words, “portable – rather like an old suitcase that they would pass from place to place.” Her family fled the racism of the Deep South and headed for Oakland, Calif., as part of the Second Great Migration west during World War II. In California, unfortunately, life was not all that much easier for Davis. She describes how, as both a black and a Southerner, she confronted prejudice in school. She lived in projects. She suffered from neglect and abuse. She describes a home “overstuffed with people but lacking in affection.”