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Thu, 01.19.1905

John P. Davis, Journalist born

John P. Davis

*John P. Davis was born on this date in 1905. He was a Black journalist, lawyer, and activist administrator.

John Preston Davis was born in Washington, D.C., the son of Dr. William Henry Davis and Julia Davis. In the 1920s, his father was Secretary to the Presidential Commission investigating the economic conditions in the Virgin Islands. Young Davis attended segregated schools in Washington, D.C., graduating from Dunbar High School.

In 1922, he enrolled in Bates College in Lewiston, Maine. Davis graduated in 1926, earning an A.B. and double honors in English and Psychology. At Bates, he was president of Delta Sigma Rho and editor of the student publication The Bobcat. Davis toured Europe with the Bates College debating team. He was among the first black men to be sent overseas under the auspices of the American University Union to engage in international debate; his team from Bates met and defeated Cambridge University. While an undergraduate at Bates College. With his literary interests, Davis entered into the Harlem Renaissance.

After college, he moved to New York City, where he was literary editor of The Crisis for a time.  He contributed short stories to The Crisis and Opportunity: A Journal of Negro Life. His short story "The Overcoat" was a prize-winner in Opportunity's 1926–27 literary contest. During this period, Davis joined with other young black writers – Zora Neale Hurston, Langston Hughes, Gwendolyn Bennett, Wallace Thurman, Aaron Douglas, Richard Bruce – to produce Fire!!, a magazine devoted to young African American artists.

Davis married Marguerite DeMond, the daughter of Reverend Abraham Lincoln DeMond and Lula Watkins (Patterson) DeMond. They had four children, including Michael DeMond Davis, who became a journalist and author. In 1946, he founded Our World magazine, a full-size, nationally distributed publication for African American readers. He also published the American Negro Reference Book, covering virtually every aspect of African American life, present and past. John Preston Davis died on September 11, 1973.

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