Belva Davis has lived an extraordinary life, and she shares the details none of us ever saw on screen in her memoir, Never in My Wildest Dreams: A Black Woman's Life in Journalism. Davis was the first black, female journalist to appear on television on the West Coast. An ambitious, confident woman, she grabbed every story and always delivered. She is considered the "Walter Cronkite of the Bay Area."
As a native of the San Francisco Bay Area, I grew up watching Belva Davis's energetic delivery. Her stories and interviews opened my eyes. After reading Never in My Wildest Dreams, I have a new appreciation for her background and her role as a model for racial equality and feminism.
She begins her memoir with a look back at San Francisco's 1964 Republican Convention, held before the Civil Rights Act became law. Sbe and her news director obtained spectator passes from a black reporter, after the mainstream media refused to give them press passes. They watched from the rafters, determined to report what white reporters might miss.
She writes about growing up in the Oakland projects, where she never had a bedroom and moved from one relative's house to another. With no money for San Francisco State, she took a job tracking ads for a small radio station.
Tiny in size but big in spirit, she accepted every story she was assigned. When CBS affiliate KPIX-TV offered her an on-camera position, she grabbed it. No matter what risk might be involved, she and her cameraman turned in one solid story after another.
She's covered the Vietnam War, the Black Panthers, UC Berkeley, the People's Temple, Mayor Moscone and Harvey Milk. She was an early reporter of the AIDS epidemic, back when it was still called the Gay Cancer. She received eight local Emmys and now hosts a weekly political affairs program on the local PBS station, KQED-TV.
She wrote her memoir, which feels more like an important autobiography, with assistance from Vicki Haddock, a longtime Bay Area journalist who has worked for the San Francisco Chronicle and Examiner as well as the Oakland Tribune. Davis's well-written life story is sometimes tense and dramatic, often determined, and always trustworthy. Never in My Wildest Dreams is an inspiring memoir with a message for all.
Belva Davis is an award-winning journalist and pioneering feminist. She has traveled the world reporting on politics, terrorism, and racial and gender issues and has anchored news programs at three major network affiliates. She currently hosts a weekly political affairs program on KQED-TV, the country's most watched public station. Visit her website.
Co-Author Vicki Haddock is a longtime Bay Area journalist.
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