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Sun, 12.31.1905

Frank Davis, Writer born

Frank M. Davis

*Frank Davis was born on this date in 1905. He was a Black poet.

From Arkansas City, Kansas Frank Marshall Davis' parents divorced one year after his birth.  At the age of seventeen, he moved to Wichita to attend Friends University, transferring to the school of journalism at Kansas State Agricultural College.  He started writing poems as an assignment in college. In 1927 Davis moved to Chicago, where he wrote articles and short stories for magazines and newspapers.  Three years later he moved to Atlanta to become an editor of the Atlanta Daily World.  Under Davis's editorship, it became the first successful Black daily newspaper in America.

His poems caught the attention of Frances Norton Manning, a bohemian intellectual, who introduced Davis to Norman Forge.  Forge's Black Cat Press brought out Davis' first book, Black Man's Verse, (1935) which became a critical success. The book brought together Davis's interest in jazz and free verse with a criticism of racial oppression.  Davis’ book, Ebony Under Granite, chronicles the lives of various Black people buried in a cemetery.  In 1937, Black Cat Press released Davis's second book, I Am the American Negro.

Between 1935 and 1947, Davis was Executive Editor for the Associated Negro Press in Chicago. He also started a photography club, worked for numerous political parties, and participated in the League of American Writers. In 1948, 47th Street was published. It was a chronicle of life on Chicago's Southside.  That same year Davis relocated to Honolulu, Hawaii, raising five children, operating a small wholesale paper business, and writing a weekly column for the Honolulu Record.  Although his work fell slightly out of favor, it was rediscovered during the Black Arts Movement in the 1960s, and in 1978 he published his final volume, Awakening, and Other Poems.

Frank Marshall Davis died in 1987. Livin' the Blues: Memories of a Black Journalist and Poet 1992 and Black Moods: Collected Poems 2002 were published posthumously.

Reference:
The African American Desk Reference
Schomburg Center for research in Black Culture
Copyright 1999 The Stonesong Press Inc. and
The New York Public Library, John Wiley & Sons, Inc. Pub.
ISBN 0-471-23924-0

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