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Rev. France Davis to speak at SDSU on Martin Luther King Jr. Day

Rev. France Davis
Rev. France Davis

The Rev. France Davis, pastor emeritus of the Salt Lake City Calvary Baptist Church and a prominent member of the civil rights movement, will be a guest speaker at South Dakota State University during the annual Martin Luther King Jr. Rally and Marade event to honor the life and legacy of the civil right activist.

Davis participated in the civil rights movement and marched from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama, with King, whom he met prior to the march. Davis will speak during the rally and marade on Jan. 15 in Volstorff Ballroom in the University Student Union. The event will begin at 11 a.m. Davis will also speak and field questions on Jan. 16 at a CommUNITY Meeting at 10:30 a.m. in the University Student Union, Campanile Room (169).

“We are very excited to have Rev. Davis come to SDSU and speak to our university and members of the community,” Jay Molock, Black Student Alliance adviser and Office of Multicultural Affairs and Accessibility student success adviser, said. “His involvement in the civil rights movement has had historic significance on our country, and he continues to advocate on behalf of others to make society a better place for everyone. His story and his message will be powerful for all in attendance.”

Davis was raised in Gough, Georgia, where he attended the Tuskegee Institute after high school before becoming a mechanic in the U.S. Air Force. He later earned degrees in Afro-American studies from Merritt College, art and humanities from Laney College, rhetoric from the University of California at Berkeley and religion and philosophy from Westminster College, a Master of Mass Communications from the University of Utah and a Master of Ministry from Northwest Nazarene College.

Davis moved to Salt Lake City in 1972 as a teaching fellow and graduate student at the University of Utah. He was later an instructor in communication and ethnic studies courses, earning a distinguished teaching award. Davis was appointed to the Utah Board of Regents from 2008-17. He retired from teaching in 2014 from Utah as an adjunct associate professor emeritus.

Davis became licensed minister in 1966 and ordained in 1971. In 1974, he became the 23rd pastor at the Calvary Baptist Church in Salt Lake City, where he served until 2019, the longest tenure for any pastor at the church dating back to the 1890s when it was founded. He was given the honorary title of pastor emeritus by the congregation upon his retirement.

This the second Martin Luther King Jr. Rally and Marade event held at SDSU.