Interview, Reuben Davis

April 25, 1980

Reuben Davis was born in Columbus, Mississippi, and attended school in Chicago, Illinois. After graduating from high school, he enrolled at Virginia State College, where he majored in history and political science. He graduated in 1946, served in the United States Army for 3 years, and then earned his law degree from Boston University in 1949. Davis came to Rochester in 1955 to practice law with Rochester’s only black lawyer at the time, Roy Hurst. While in Rochester, Davis became involved in the local National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE), the A.M.E. Zion Church, the Monroe County Human Relations Commission, the Chamber of Commerce, and the YMCA, among other organizations. He also served as the first black Deputy Corporation Counsel to the City of Rochester, the head of the Department of Buildings and Property Conservation, and as a city court judge.

In this interview, Davis discusses the growth of non-white populations in Rochester since he first came to the city, housing discrimination, the 1964 race riots, and the growth of social consciousness in Rochester. He emphasizes the importance of black involvement in politics and encourages young people to become interested in law and politics.

Content Tags


  • 1950s
  • 1960s
  • 1970s
  • 1980s