Rev. France Davis describes his relationship with Dr. King, and his impact

Jan 17, 2022, 1:37 PM
Davis King...
Rev. France A. Davis speaks to community members gathered for a peaceful nonviolent rally at Washington Square in Salt Lake City on Saturday, June 6, 2020. Organizers hope to shed light on current events, as well as the African American struggle, and to show support for local law enforcement. Photo: Scott G Winterton, Deseret News

SALT LAKE CITY — Civil rights and religious leader Reverend France Davis joined Utah’s Morning News to discuss the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. on Monday.

Rev. Davis is a pastor emeritus at the Salt Lake City Calvary Baptist Church, where he has worked and served since 1974.

Beyond his religious leadership in Salt Lake City, Rev. Davis was involved in the civil rights movement of the 1960s and 1970s. Through his work, he got to know Dr. King personally. 

The fight for voting rights continues

Rev. Davis told Utah Morning News host Tim Hughes he thinks Dr. King would be displeased with how racism persists today. Specifically, he noted racism in the attitudes of the public and of some elected officials, even though racist policies such as legal segregation have been overturned.

Rev. Davis marched for voting rights from Selma to Montgomery with Dr. King in 1965.

“For us, who were students, it was a time of excitement because we were making a positive difference for the citizens of Selma, Alabama, and of the country.”

Voting rights was a key focus of the civil rights movement and in Dr. King’s work. The Voting Rights Act of 1965, which outlawed discriminatory voting practices, was a successful outcome of the movement.
However, Rev. Davis said that now, voting rights are an issue once again. “There seems to be a reversal of the law,” he said, in reference to the Voting Rights Act, “so I think [Dr. King] would be disappointed in that regard.”

The fight for a national holiday

Rev. Davis was instrumental in the fight to get Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day recognized as a national holiday. In 1983, former President Ronald Reagan signed Public Law 98-144, declaring that the third Monday of January would be Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day.
The national holiday was first observed in 1986. 
As a result of his and others’ success in the fight for a national holiday in honor of Dr. King, protestors riddled his church office with bullets. 
“They burned mattresses and crosses in front of the building … the danger that people still demonstrate is very real … People don’t have the respect, the concern, of the care that they ought to have.” 
Utah’s Morning News host, Tim Hughes, noted the holiday wasn’t adopted in every state until 2000. 

A new season, same fight

Rev. Davis wants the public to remember more than just Dr. King’s “I Have a Dream” speech. Instead, he wants people to remember Dr. King’s staunch opposition to other institutions, like the war in Vietnam at the time. 

Hughes noted it seemed Rev. Davis though had formally retired from certain work, he continues to work diligently in activism.  

Rev. Davis laughed and explained, his retirement marks a new season in his life, as opposed to an end to his life’s work. 

Utah Morning News with Tim Hughes and Amanda Dickson can be heard weekdays from 5 a.m. to 9 p.m. on KSL NewsRadio. Users can find the show on the KSL NewsRadio website and app.

Other stories:

We want to hear from you.

Have a story idea or tip? Send it to the KSL NewsRadio team here.

Today’s Top Stories

All News

Salt Lake City Police have arrested two people in connection to a fatal shooting on Wednesday, Feb....
Mark Jones

SLCPD arrest two people in connection to a Wednesday shooting

Two people have been arrested in connection to a Wednesday shooting, according to Salt Lake City Police. The victim, a 35-year-old, died at the hospital.
1 day ago
Utah 2022 legislative session...
Mark Jones

Bill would require buildings to post signs for events meant for adults

One Utah lawmaker is proposing a bill that would require signs be posted on public buildings that will be hosting events meant for adults.
1 day ago
Multiple dollar bills are pictured, social security will see a bump...
Mark Jones

Eyeing retirement: How much money is enough after you leave a job?

How do you know when it's time to leave a job or if you'll have enough for retirement? Dave and Dujanovic talk to a financial planner about this important question.
1 day ago
Salt Lake City Police are investigating a fatal stabbing at the Palmer Court Apartments on Thursday...
Mark Jones

One person dead following a stabbing in Salt Lake City suspect still at large

One person died following a stabbing in Salt Lake City on Thursday afternoon, according to Salt Lake City Police. Police are still searching for a suspect.
1 day ago
UDOT crews fill potholes...
Devin Oldroyd

UDOT uses public’s help locating potholes

UDOT spokesperson John Gleason says the department is monitoring where the potholes are, thanks in large part to the public.
1 day ago
interest rate...
Curt Gresseth

Interest rate ticks up. Time to tame your debt.

The chief financial analyst for joins the show to talk about the rising interest rate and how you can get out from under the debt you have accumulated.
1 day ago

Sponsored Articles

Banner with Cervical Cancer Awareness Realistic Ribbon...
Intermountain Health

Five Common Causes of Cervical Cancer – and What You Can Do to Lower Your Risk

January is National Cervical Cancer Awareness month and cancer experts at Intermountain Health are working to educate women about cervical cancer, the tests that can warn women about potential cancer, and the importance of vaccination.
Kid holding a cisco fish at winterfest...
Bear Lake Convention and Visitors Bureau

Get Ready for Fun at the 2023 Bear Lake Monster Winterfest

The Bear Lake Monster Winterfest is an annual weekend event jam-packed full of fun activities the whole family can enjoy. This year the event will be held from January 27-29 at the Utah Bear Lake State Park Marina and Sunrise Resort and Event Center in Garden City, Utah. 
happy friends with sparklers at christmas dinner...

15 Easy Christmas Dinner Ideas

We’ve scoured the web for you and narrowed down a few of our favorite Christmas dinner ideas to make your planning easy. Choose from the dishes we’ve highlighted to plan your meal or start brainstorming your own meal plan a couple of weeks before to make sure you have time to shop and prepare.
Spicy Homemade Loaded Taters Tots...

5 Game Day Snacks for the Whole Family (with recipes!)

Try these game day snacks to make watching football at home with your family feel like a special occasion. 
Happy joyful smiling casual satisfied woman learning and communicates in sign language online using...

The Best Tools for Deaf and Hard-of-Hearing Workplace Success

Here are some of the best resources to make your workplace work better for Deaf and hard-of-hearing employees.
Team supporters celebrating at a tailgate party...

8 Delicious Tailgate Foods That Require Zero Prep Work

In a hurry? These 8 tailgate foods take zero prep work, so you can fuel up and get back to what matters most: getting hyped for your favorite
Rev. France Davis describes his relationship with Dr. King, and his impact