Harry Davis has died…

August 11th, 2006

The guy who convinced me to begrudgingly believe in electoral politics has died.  Services will be at 10 a.m. Aug. 19 at the Hennepin Avenue United Methodist Church, 511 Groveland Ave., Minneapolis. Visitation will be held from noon to 8 p.m. Thursday.

In the STrib: W. Harry Davis dead at 83


Photos from Davis’s Overcoming. (I wonder what that girl with the attitude is doing these days!)

Harry Davis, who ran for Mayor of Minneapolis in 1971 died today. 35 years ago, I was in homeroom at Central High with his son Ricky, didn’t know him well, he was a jock and I was a “maggot” hanging out in the front yard (thank Dog for independent studies). Harry Davis was on the School Board then, and the School Board was dancing around desegration. Our Central Magnet School was an attempt to desegregate the school district and avoid a suit, though the suit went forward and the district ended up in a consent agreement (odd, but segregation at that time was a school more than 30 or 35% minority — a 100% white school was not viewed as segregated!). Anyway, Harry’s run got me fired up, and I worked on his campaign, grunt work, did mailings, lit drops and doorknocking, and I remember some people’s vile responses with a queasy gut, and when the Davis signs kept disappearing from our front yard, even my Republican father got upset!


This is Harry Davis filing for the mayoral race.

During his campaign, he was threatened repeatedly, to the point that he was assigned first a police officer and then an FBI guard. Then two furry ones too, pictured here with his grandson!


He tells of doorknocking in hostile Nordeast, and then Bob Short, Don Fraser and Hubert Humphrey throwing in with him, and when he was on the street:

...a car pulled up alongside me. Out of it jumped Hubert Humphrey and Don Fraser, who said ‘Harry, we’re coming to give you some help.’ They offered to go with me and introduce me at each door as their choice for mayor. They spent the rest of that afternoon with me and the next day too, doing just that…

They were pounding the pavement and doors for two days across Northeast Minneapolis. They also made appearances with him, their efforts Davis called “the nicest gesture I ever witnessed in political life.”

Overcoming is well worth reading, though it’s so damn depressing to be reminded of how hard it was for him to run. He rated the debate at my parent’s church, Mayflower, as “lively” and it was one of only two that Stenvig agreed to. I remember the room was packed and I remember feeling very nervous about the palpable heat in the room. I don’t remember one thing about content, nothing at all, only the overwhelming angst and disgust over the opposition’s behavior and the fear I felt, immediate and also fear for our culture — he reports that Stenvig supporters spit at him on his way out the door.

How far have we come? We’re fortunate he had the courage to run for office. Lines have morphed some, but the battles are still there…


2 Responses to “Harry Davis has died…”

  1. Barb Miller Says:

    Wow! What a great tribute to Harry Davis. Also to the decent men (mostly) who had the guts to help him (Humphrey, Fraser et al). That took personal and political courage in those twisted times. “Those twisted times”? Yeah, well . . .

  2. Hilary Ziols Says:

    Thanks, Carol, for calling my attention to that obituary in the strib that I had passed over http://www.startribune.com/462/story/609030.html
    wondering who Harry Davis was.

Leave a Reply