Allison Davis honored with U.S. postage stamp
Allison Davis (Ph.D.'42), one of the most influential social anthropologists and educators of his day, will be honored in ceremonies on Tuesday, Feb. 1, and Wednesday, Feb. 2, when a stamp bearing his likeness is issued as part of the U.S. Postal Service's Black Heritage stamp series.
"We take great pride in Allison Davis' accomplishments, and we are very pleased that he is being recognized in this way," President Sonnenschein said. Sonnenschein will join Leon Forrest, a novelist and professor at Northwestern, and other scholars who were colleagues of Davis or who were influenced by his work for a ceremony at 10 a.m. Wednesday, Feb. 2, in the Cloister Club of Ida Noyes Hall. A ceremony will also be held the previous day at Williams College, where Davis received his bachelor's degree.
Davis, who served as the John Dewey Distinguished Service Professor in Education and was one of the first African Americans granted tenure by an academic institution other than a historically black institution, was chosen for the stamp because of his pioneering work in education and other social sciences. He challenged the cultural bias of standardized intelligence tests and fought for the understanding of human potential beyond racial class and caste, work that helped support desegregation efforts and contributed to contemporary thought on valuing the capabilities of youth from diverse backgrounds.
The Black Heritage stamp series began in 1978 with a stamp honoring abolitionist Harriet Tubman. Others honored by the series include Martin Luther King Jr., A. Philip Randolph, W.E.B. DuBois and Jackie Robinson.
"The Black Heritage series is one of the Postal Service's prize stamp programs," said LaGree Daniels of the Postal Board of Governors. "It plays an important role in portraying the American experience to a world audience and honors African Americans who have richly contributed to U.S. history."
Born in 1902 in Washington, D.C., Davis graduated summa cum laude from Williams College in 1924. He earned two master's degrees from Harvard, one in comparative literature and the other in anthropology, before coming to Chicago in 1939. He received his doctorate from Chicago in 1942. A University faculty member from 1942 until his death in 1983, Davis was appointed the John Dewey Distinguished Service Professor in Education in 1970.
Davis was invited by the president of the United States to help plan the Conference to Insure Civil Rights in 1966, and he was a member of the White House Task Force on the Gifted in 1968. In 1967, he became the first scholar from the field of education to become a fellow in the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.
He wrote nine books, including "Children of Bondage," co-authored with John Dollard; "Deep South," co-authored with Burleigh and Mary Gardner; and "Psychology of the Child in the Middle Class," co-authored with K. Eells.