Rights leader Davidson named to D.C. real estate board: 1963
Eugene Davisson, the former president of the D.C. NAACP and the former administrator of the New Negro Alliance, is shown after being nominated to serve on the District of Columbia real estate commission September 28, 1963.
Davidson was a real estate broker who first worked in the family real estate business and later founded his own firm in 1947.
Eugene V. Davidson, the president of the District of Columbia NAACP from 1952 to 1958.
Davidson gained early fame when he was named administrator of the New Negro Alliance in 1939.
Davidson broadened the NNA to include left-wing activists like Doxey Wilkerson, U. Simpson Tate and George H. Rycraw as well as moderates like future mayor Walter Washington and Roberta Hastie, wife of Judge William H. Hastie.
The group had been picketing and boycotting stores in the District since 1933 under the slogan, “Don’t buy where you can’t work.”
The group had initial success in a number of smaller stores and early on convinced the A&P grocery store to integrate three of its stores located in black neighborhoods, but efforts had stalled.
Davidson renewed the offensive against smaller stores and quickly desegregated Joseph Oxenburg at 1314 7th Street NW, Bonnett’s Shore Store at 1310 7th Street and Capitol Shoe Store at 1338 7th Street.
He recruited national NAACP president Walter White and prominent rights activist Mary McLeod Bethune to picket People’s Drug Store demanding that the chain hire black clerks and cashiers.
Despite the renewed pressure, chains like Sanitary Grocery (Safeway) and People’s Drug Store successfully resisted the pressure.
During 1941, Davidson helped organize the local chapter of A. Phillip Randolph’s March on Washington Movement whose threatened demonstration prompted President Franklin Roosevelt to issue an executive order barring discrimination in defense-related industry.
While head of the local NAACP, Davidson oversaw the end of legal segregation in the District and challenged many institutions to live up to the law, including D.C. schools, the police and fire departments, and the board of realtors.
It was after he charged the District police department with brutality in 1957 that a cross was burned in front of his house.
Davidson was a District of Columbia native who graduated from what would become Dunbar High School. He graduated from Howard University, received an A. B. degree from Harvard and returned to Howard to get a bachelor of laws degree.
He began assisting his father, who had been the first executive secretary of the District of Columbia NAACP, in the family real estate business. He continued to run the company until his retirement in 1973.
He served in the U.S. Army as a lieutenant in World War I and at one time was editor of three black-oriented newspapers in the city.
Davidson died in 1976
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The image is courtesy of the D.C. Public Library Washington Star Collection © Washington Post.