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As the first black female television journalist in the western United States, Belva Davis overcame the obstacles of racism and sexism, and helped change the face and focus of television news. Now she is sharing the story of her extraordinary life in her poignantly honest memoir, Never in My Wildest Dreams. A reporter for almost five decades, Davis is no stranger to adversi As the first black female television journalist in the western United States, Belva Davis overcame the obstacles of racism and sexism, and helped change the face and focus of television news. Now she is sharing the story of her extraordinary life in her poignantly honest memoir, Never in My Wildest Dreams. A reporter for almost five decades, Davis is no stranger to adversity. Born to a fifteen-year-old Louisiana laundress during the Great Depression, and raised in the overcrowded projects of Oakland, California, Davis suffered abuse, battled rejection, and persevered to achieve a career beyond her imagination. Davis has seen the world change in ways she never could have envisioned, from being verbally and physically attacked while reporting on the 1964 Republican National Convention in San Francisco to witnessing the historic election of Barack Obama in 2008. Davis worked her way up to reporting on many of the most explosive stories of recent times, including the Vietnam War protests, the rise and fall of the Black Panthers, the Peoples Temple cult mass suicides at Jonestown, the assassinations of San Francisco Mayor George Moscone and Supervisor Harvey Milk, the onset of the AIDS epidemic, and the aftermath of the terrorist attacks that first put Osama bin Laden on the FBI's Most Wanted List. She encountered a cavalcade of cultural icons: Malcolm X, Frank Sinatra, James Brown, Ronald Reagan, Huey Newton, Muhammad Ali, Alex Haley, Fidel Castro, Dianne Feinstein, Condoleezza Rice, and others. Throughout her career Davis soldiered in the trenches in the battle for racial equality and brought stories of black Americans out of the shadows and into the light of day. Still active in her seventies, Davis, the "Walter Cronkite of the Bay Area," now hosts a weekly news roundtable and special reports at KQED, one of the nation's leading PBS stations, . In this way she has remained relevant and engaged in the stories of today, while offering her anecdote-rich perspective on the decades that have shaped us.


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As the first black female television journalist in the western United States, Belva Davis overcame the obstacles of racism and sexism, and helped change the face and focus of television news. Now she is sharing the story of her extraordinary life in her poignantly honest memoir, Never in My Wildest Dreams. A reporter for almost five decades, Davis is no stranger to adversi As the first black female television journalist in the western United States, Belva Davis overcame the obstacles of racism and sexism, and helped change the face and focus of television news. Now she is sharing the story of her extraordinary life in her poignantly honest memoir, Never in My Wildest Dreams. A reporter for almost five decades, Davis is no stranger to adversity. Born to a fifteen-year-old Louisiana laundress during the Great Depression, and raised in the overcrowded projects of Oakland, California, Davis suffered abuse, battled rejection, and persevered to achieve a career beyond her imagination. Davis has seen the world change in ways she never could have envisioned, from being verbally and physically attacked while reporting on the 1964 Republican National Convention in San Francisco to witnessing the historic election of Barack Obama in 2008. Davis worked her way up to reporting on many of the most explosive stories of recent times, including the Vietnam War protests, the rise and fall of the Black Panthers, the Peoples Temple cult mass suicides at Jonestown, the assassinations of San Francisco Mayor George Moscone and Supervisor Harvey Milk, the onset of the AIDS epidemic, and the aftermath of the terrorist attacks that first put Osama bin Laden on the FBI's Most Wanted List. She encountered a cavalcade of cultural icons: Malcolm X, Frank Sinatra, James Brown, Ronald Reagan, Huey Newton, Muhammad Ali, Alex Haley, Fidel Castro, Dianne Feinstein, Condoleezza Rice, and others. Throughout her career Davis soldiered in the trenches in the battle for racial equality and brought stories of black Americans out of the shadows and into the light of day. Still active in her seventies, Davis, the "Walter Cronkite of the Bay Area," now hosts a weekly news roundtable and special reports at KQED, one of the nation's leading PBS stations, . In this way she has remained relevant and engaged in the stories of today, while offering her anecdote-rich perspective on the decades that have shaped us.

30 review for Never in My Wildest Dreams: A Black Woman's Life in Journalism

  1. 5 out of 5

    Claire

    What a compelling story of a fascinating life in journalism. I loved how Bay-Area-centric it was, and I just KNEW that if I waited long enough there would be an OPL reference in it. (There was: her best friend became the head librarian at MY branch! And put her librarian skills to use for Ms. Davis more than once!) I don't think anybody will be teaching this one as an example of an elegantly-written memoir, but it was clear and interesting throughout. I really enjoyed reading it and have been wi What a compelling story of a fascinating life in journalism. I loved how Bay-Area-centric it was, and I just KNEW that if I waited long enough there would be an OPL reference in it. (There was: her best friend became the head librarian at MY branch! And put her librarian skills to use for Ms. Davis more than once!) I don't think anybody will be teaching this one as an example of an elegantly-written memoir, but it was clear and interesting throughout. I really enjoyed reading it and have been widely recommending it!

  2. 4 out of 5

    Margie

    I'd give this book five stars for the content and three for the writing. The writing was okay, but didn't grab me. At a number of points anecdotes seemed to be going somewhere and then petered out. I wondered if it might be that Ms. Davis was being a bit private, though she certainly opened up about some things. She's lived an extraordinary life, and is a pioneer journalist. She was the first female African American newscaster west of the Mississippi, and is certainly the Bay Area's grande dame o I'd give this book five stars for the content and three for the writing. The writing was okay, but didn't grab me. At a number of points anecdotes seemed to be going somewhere and then petered out. I wondered if it might be that Ms. Davis was being a bit private, though she certainly opened up about some things. She's lived an extraordinary life, and is a pioneer journalist. She was the first female African American newscaster west of the Mississippi, and is certainly the Bay Area's grande dame of journalism. I admire her greatly.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Constance Chevalier

    I really enjoyed reading her book. I met her once when my mother scheduled a tour for Castlemont H. S. students and brought me along. Belva Davis is such an icon for the Bay Area. I remember her work as a reporter throughout her career. The narrative reminded me of the many important events in the 60s, 70s, and 80s : MLK, Jr coming to Oakland, my radio station KDIA- Lucky thirteen, Glide Memorial Church in San Francisco reaching out to the community with free food, the Black Panther's Breakfast I really enjoyed reading her book. I met her once when my mother scheduled a tour for Castlemont H. S. students and brought me along. Belva Davis is such an icon for the Bay Area. I remember her work as a reporter throughout her career. The narrative reminded me of the many important events in the 60s, 70s, and 80s : MLK, Jr coming to Oakland, my radio station KDIA- Lucky thirteen, Glide Memorial Church in San Francisco reaching out to the community with free food, the Black Panther's Breakfast program, Huey Newton's penthouse apartment on 1200 Lakeshore Drive, all the women of the Panthers, UC Berkeley's student unrest and People's Park, the kidnapping of Patty Hearst, Jim Jones and the People's Temple, the killing of Mayor Moscone and Harvey Milk (which was covered in Willie Brown's memoir book who she was good friends with) and her ground-breaking exposes on Breast cancer or living with dyslexia, in the evening news. Through Barbara Lee, she joined an all-Black delegation commandeered by Ron Dellums to Havana, Cuba, during the Carter Administration. She even got to interview Fidel Castro. Her piece, "Yankee Come Back" garnered two Emmys. Other emmy award pieces covered the early days of AIDS in the Castro District. Belva Davis covered so many stories as a reporter and news caster for KPIX, KRON and KQED while never being paid anywhere near what her white male colleages were earning. She is truly a Bay Area legend.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Linda

    Belva Davis was one of the first African-American journalists to be hired into mainstream media in the 1960's. She worked for many years in broadcast journalism in the San Francisco Bay Area for the local CBS and NBC affiliates as well as KQED, the most widely viewed PBS station in the country. She is very highly regarded in journalism circles and the recipient of a number of awards and honors. I lived in the Bay Area for many years during college and thereafter, and vividly recall many of her r Belva Davis was one of the first African-American journalists to be hired into mainstream media in the 1960's. She worked for many years in broadcast journalism in the San Francisco Bay Area for the local CBS and NBC affiliates as well as KQED, the most widely viewed PBS station in the country. She is very highly regarded in journalism circles and the recipient of a number of awards and honors. I lived in the Bay Area for many years during college and thereafter, and vividly recall many of her reports on the tumultuous events of the 1960’s and 1970’s. The book starts vividly with a recounting of her experiences covering the 1964 Republican National Convention, held ironically in San Francisco. Goldwater was nominated to run against Lyndon Johnson. She was there as a reporter for a local popular radio station, KDIA, with her producer, Lewis Freeman. Both were subjected to outrageous demonstrations of bigotry and outright hatred by various white conventioners and had to leave under conditions that were proving to be very threatening to their personal safety. Even John Chancellor, a prominent journalist for NBC, was hauled out of the convention for attempting to cover the hideously racist statements being made at the convention. Belva grew up in a very poor family in Monroe, Louisiana. She had an extremely difficult childhood. She described herself as being "portable", meaning she was farmed out to various relatives, some of whom treated her well, and others who treated her very poorly. With Aunt Pearline and Uncle Ezra she was treated well, with nice clothes and a decent roof over her head. At other times she slept on blankets on a dirt floor, was beaten by her grandmother for even the most minor of infractions, and at times simply just wanted to die. Her father had a very fiery temper and would also subject her to periodic whippings. Belva and her family moved across country in the early 1940's, settling in Oakland, CA. Family life continued to be very unstable throughout middle school and high school, with frequent moves. Upon graduating from Berkeley High School she was accepted into college but there was absolutely no money to finance any sort of college education. She went to work as a GS2 typist for the Navy. She married young, had a son and a daughter, but insisted on continuing to work. Her husband was in the Air Force and at one time was stationed at Andrews AFB outside Washington. She worked in Washington as a typist. Eventually he was discharged and they moved back to Oakland. She worked as a typist for the Navy for a period of time but left this job determined to flee her dysfunctional marriage, taking her children with her. This attempt to leave failed, but the marriage was a disaster and ended in divorce. (Happily, Belva eventually remarried to a wonderful man, Bill Moore, who worked as a photojournalist. ) Throughout her life, Belva had a theme she would refer to help her maintain her determination to focus on the future: “Don’t be afraid of the space between your dreams and reality…If you can dream, you can make it so.” She was very resilient and determined throughout her struggles as an adult to raise her children and create a meaningful life. Belva continued to struggle as a single mother with very low paying jobs writing on a fee per story basis for independent community papers in the East Bay of San Francisco. Eventually she landed a radio job on a popular soul station (KDIA mentioned above). In the 1960's, ten years after the Supreme Court decision in Brown vs Board of Education, more attention was finally being paid by broadcast media to hiring women and minorities in an attempt to represent the ethnic and gender diversity of viewers. She landed a job as a reporter on KPIX, the CBS affiliate in San Francisco. Belva entered broadcast journalism at a tumultuous time in this country's history. As an African-American, she was assigned to cover stories in the East Bay involving the Berkeley riots (People's Park, the anti-war movement) and the Black Panthers (Huey Newton, Eldridge Cleaver, Angela Davis, others). She interviewed Ronald Reagan when he was governor of California. Moving on into the 1970’s, she covered the Zebra and Zodiac killings, the assassinations of SF Mayor George Moscone and the first openly gay member of the SF city council, Harvey Milk. She also covered the kidnapping of Hearst Publishing heiress, Patricia Hearst and the cult exodus and mass suicide of hundreds in Jonestone living under the spell of the Reverend Jim Jones. She travelled to Cuba for an interview with Fidel Castro. She also covered the terror attacks on the US embassies in Kenya and Tanzania. She worked for more coverage of women’s issues such as breast cancer, as well as general health issues such as AIDS and heart disease. For many years she hosted a weekly news program “This Week in Northern California” on KQED/PBS. I felt the book was very important from several perspectives. First, the descriptions of Belva’s childhood in the 1930’s and 1940’s – growing up poor and Black – were quite vivid and honest. I was extremely impressed by her determination to move through the world of journalism, essentially at the time a white man’s world, and to obtain a high degree of success and recognition. She was at all times true to her strong values of integrity, honesty and fairness. I also enjoyed reading the book from the point of view of refreshing my memory on the tumultuous times of the 1960’s and 1970’s. Belva is now retired and living in Sonoma County, CA. I wish her many years of happiness and peace.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Elisa

    Belva Davis is one of the most fascinating women I have ever had the pleasure to meet. Her drive and determination to pull herself up out of any circumstance that would arise to pull her down... the tenacity throughout her life is inspiring for everyone. Ms. Davis also addressed my SFSU graduating class... such an amazing speech filled with hope, joy and possibilities. Absolutely a must read, this is really six star gold!

  6. 5 out of 5

    Dawn

    This book is incredible. I was spellbound by Belva Davis' story. Truly a page turner that should be a mandatory read in every school and on the shelves of every adult.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Vilo

    This autobiography of the one of the first black women in TV journalism in the western United States is an amazing tour of San Francisco, US and even some world history. As a radio personality she interviewed Bill Cosby regularly in his early days, she grew up in the neighborhood with Huey Newton and Bobby Seale of the Black Panthers, and she recorded the involvement of Rev. Jim Jones with San Francisco politics before he took his People's Temple group to Guyana. Although raising her family and This autobiography of the one of the first black women in TV journalism in the western United States is an amazing tour of San Francisco, US and even some world history. As a radio personality she interviewed Bill Cosby regularly in his early days, she grew up in the neighborhood with Huey Newton and Bobby Seale of the Black Panthers, and she recorded the involvement of Rev. Jim Jones with San Francisco politics before he took his People's Temple group to Guyana. Although raising her family and working more than full-time, she took on projects she felt were important, such as running Black beauty pageants before Miss America was integrated. As amazing as her name-dropping lists are, Ms. Davis' personal life is even more incredible, and she explores her regrets as well as her triumphs.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Gilbert Mansergh

    Belva is a powerhouse! In familiar icon to anyone who lived in the SF Bay Area, here rise from literally sleeping on a basement floor to one of the most respected names in broadcast journalism is truly empowering. Highlights include being pelted with hotdogs, sodas, and Snickers bars as she was thrown out of the Republican Convention, death threats while covering news stories, interviewing Martin Luther King Jr., Malcolm X, and Huey Lewis, and covering the assassination of Mayor Mosconi and Supe Belva is a powerhouse! In familiar icon to anyone who lived in the SF Bay Area, here rise from literally sleeping on a basement floor to one of the most respected names in broadcast journalism is truly empowering. Highlights include being pelted with hotdogs, sodas, and Snickers bars as she was thrown out of the Republican Convention, death threats while covering news stories, interviewing Martin Luther King Jr., Malcolm X, and Huey Lewis, and covering the assassination of Mayor Mosconi and Supervisor Harvey Milk at the SF City Hall.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Ann

    I was ready to give this book 5 stars until I got to the end. I loved reading about her history. Since she is from the bay area, the book brought back lots of memories. She is an amazing lady, a marvelous reporter and a great inspiration. Somehow, the end of the book seemed rushed as she went through a list of her accomplishments and then apologized for not giving her family enough time. I still recommend this book highly to all my bay area friends.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Rasheed Shabazz

    This was an amazing book. Never in my Wildest Dreams is a memoir written by the trailblazing newswoman Belva Davis. The first Black woman on television news in the Bay Area, her book gives a first hand account of her struggle to shatter the media's whitely-tinted glass ceiling. At times very humorous, then introspective, Davis gives a strong account of many amazing events people my age can only read about.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Myrna

    Very interesting and informative. I now wish that I had watcher Belva on TV more than I did. She reviewed many historic things that took place in the bay area during the last 30+ years. We fail lto realize the part that she played in bringing minorities into the news business.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Janet Clark

    This may be my all time favorite memoir. Davis lived and covered some of our most significant Bay Area history. She had to overcome one obstacle after another and as we all know---even today projects an unflapable and dignified intelligence to her reporting and TV persona. Terrific read.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Kate Fitzgerald

    Great book, quick read. I wasn't particularly excited about reading this book, but it turned out to be very interesting and well-written. Belva Davis's personal story unfolds alongside the turmoil and progress that occurred, particularly in the Bay Area, during the last several decades.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Kathleen

    I enjoyed this book, as I have enjoyed Belva Davis' reporting over the years. Strong, clear, well written memoir

  15. 5 out of 5

    NEWMARKJRESEARCH

    Please check display shelves/cases in our collection

  16. 5 out of 5

    Mary Hammock

    Enjoyed this book. I didn't realize she was the first black woman in journalism. Brought back many memories of the times. 238 pages

  17. 4 out of 5

    Leorah

    One of my best friend's lent me his copy of this book. Thoroughly enjoyed this book!

  18. 4 out of 5

    Laura

    What an amazing lady. It was inspiring to read about her life.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Norma

    Ms. Davis starts off with an account of her terrifying experience at the 1964 Republican Convention. Reads fast and reminds me how much / little has changed.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Josephine

    I am frankly amazed at this woman's life. She frankly discusses difficult choices she made and the amazing life she's lead. I couldn't put this book down.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Judith Grace

  22. 4 out of 5

    Sandy

  23. 5 out of 5

    Meghan

  24. 5 out of 5

    Kathy

  25. 4 out of 5

    W

  26. 4 out of 5

    Olivia Rafferty

  27. 4 out of 5

    Susannah Medley

  28. 5 out of 5

    Linda Loveall

  29. 4 out of 5

    Elaine Eterosa

  30. 4 out of 5

    Sharon

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