Led Minneapolis schools through desegregation

John Davis (Star Tribune)Minneapolis school superintendent John B. Davis, who died recently at age 89, led the Minneapolis schools from the late 1960s to 1975 during the court-ordered desegregation of public schools across the country.

Minneapolis Star Tribune writers Pamela Miller and Steve Brandt wrote in Davis’s obituary: “By all accounts, he was a strong and humane administrator and a gifted advocate of innovation and change.”

The writers used Davis’s own words from a 2001 interview to explain his methods and philosophy as the school district’s superintendent.

I seemed to be good at problem-solving, and there are plenty of problems out there, given this world of human fallacy and frailty. Each step of the way, I listened and observed, and sought wise counsel from the people around me, and tried to get the very best people into the positions where they could do the most good. That was fundamental, because unless you’ve been in the arena, you never know how hard the lion can bite.

Miller and Brandt pointed out that “Davis himself fought for social reform, marching with Coretta Scott King and protesting the Vietnam War.”

Read the obituary then share your condolences in John Davis’s Guest Book.


This post was contributed by Alana Baranick, a freelance obituary writer who lives in Northeast Ohio. She is director of the Society of Professional Obituary Writers and chief author of Life on the Death Beat: A Handbook for Obituary Writers.