Dr. William A. Davis, First African-American From the Field of Education Elected into the American Academy of Arts and Sciences

1 Posted by - September 1, 2018 - BLACK MEN, LATEST POSTS

Dr. William Allison Davis spent the majority of his life uncovering the injustices in the United States educational system. He was considered one of the most promising African-American scholars of his time. Davis was born in 1902, to Gabrielle and John Davis; he was one out of three children. He graduated from Dunbar High School as class valedictorian, and from there went on to continue his education at Williams College in Massachusetts, where he earned his Bachelor’s of Arts degree and graduated summa cum laude in 1924. After receiving his master’s degree in English at Harvard in 1925, he moved to Virginia and taught English to children living in rural areas.

Davis was astonished to learn that just ordinary standard studies made no sense to the poorly schooled rural Blacks. So, he decided to do a social anthropology study investigation in the deep south. He worked under W. Lloyd Warner on his investigation. Davis’ conclusion was that southern society was composed of two “castes,” (White and Black). Each class was defined by different layers and had many divisions between them. Davis also challenged the cultural bias of standardized intelligence tests. He argued that the lower intelligence scores of Black students were not the results of lower intelligence but of middle-class cultural bias posed in the questions.


Davis spent the rest of his lifetime raising awareness about the division between Black children education as compared to their white counterparts in the south. He published a collection of academic books, and had an enormous impact on the start of early childhood development programs. One of the greatest programs that was made possible because of his determination to early childhood programs was Head Start. In 1994, the United States honored Davis with a stamp bearing his picture.





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