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Remembering Anita Davis, the first female African American Leon County Commissioner

Published: Jan. 19, 2021 at 9:21 PM EST
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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) - Former NAACP Tallahassee Branch President and Leon County Commissioner Anita Davis passed away on Sunday; she was 84.

Davis was the first female President of the Tallahassee Branch of the NAACP, first elected in 1981. She served a second term from 2001-2002.

Davis was instrumental in securing single-member districts for elections to the Leon County Commission and the Leon County School Board; multiple current politicians credit her with their success.

Leon County Commissioner Bill Proctor now holds Davis’ former seat representing District One.

“We’re forever indebted for her vision to make the Voting Rights Act become a little more real, and to give access to seats on our County Commission, on our School Board; that’s just tall, tall work,” said Proctor. “She often touched issues that no one else would. She was the voice of hope, and what she said carried weight.”

City Commissioner Curtis Richardson credits Davis for his election to the Leon County School Board in 1996, starting his political career.

“You have to have everyone’s views represented at the table. That’s what democracy is all about,” said Richardson.

Davis was not only the first female African American Leon County Commissioner but also the first female African American Leon County Commission Chair.

“She was a catalyst for equal representation in local government and the community,” said Davis’ godson Delaitre Hollinger. “She took everybody under her wing.”

During her tenure on the Leon County Commission, Davis helped restore Lake Henrietta; the park off of Springhill Road is now named the Anita L. Davis Preserve, dedicated in 2018.

When interviewed at that dedication by WCTV, Davis continued to push for equality across the community.

“There are too many people that are pushed aside because they don’t look like you or look like me,” she said.

Davis also pushed to build new ballparks in Woodville, the Southside Library Branch, and the health clinic on Old Bainbridge Road.

Hollinger, Davis’ godson and a fellow past President of the Tallahassee Branch of the NAACP, met Davis through her involvement with ACT-SO, an enrichment program for high school students.

“Mrs. Davis consistently, over the course of her 22 years as chairperson, turned out National Olympians, and so we brought students back with gold medals and silver medals, who got $10,000 checks and $5,000 checks,” said Hollinger.

Davis’ commitment to children extended across the ocean, raising money to send young people to school in Ghana.

“It bothered me to know that these children were playing instead of getting an education, and gosh, that’s a mission for me!” she told WCTV at the time.

“She will be sitting at the right hand of God, and leading the effort there in heaven with him,” said Richardson.

Funeral arrangements for Davis have not yet been announced.

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