Broadcast journalist Belva Davis on her family’s move from Louisiana to Oakland, California, her new memoir, and becoming the first female African American television reporter on the West Coast.


Photograph by Greg Habiby

On this month’s edition of “On the Fly,” Guernica Editor-at-Large Mark Dowie interviews journalist Belva Davis. As the first black female television reporter on the West Coast, Belva Davis helped change the face and focus of broadcast news. In a career spanning five decades, Davis has interviewed some of the most explosive personalities of the past century, including members of the Black Panthers, Martin Luther King, Jr., Malcolm X , Huey Newton, and Robert Kennedy. In her new memoir, Never in My Wildest Dreams: A Black Woman’s Life in Journalism, Davis chronicles her journey from Louisiana during the Great Depression to the projects of Oakland, California, candidly documenting the racism and abuse she faced as a single mom, struggling to raise two children, while persevering to build a prodigious career. Davis never gave up, and we’re all the better because of it.

Part One: Sleeping on floors to affirmative action


Part Two: On the most memorable interviews of her career


Part Three: The future of public broadcasting


dowiebio60.jpgMark Dowie is an editor-at-large at Guernica, an investigative historian, and the author of seven books, including Losing Ground: American Environmentalism at the Close of the Twentieth Century, American Foundations: An Investigative History, and, most recently, Conservation Refugees: The Hundred-Year Conflict between Global Conservation and Native Peoples. During his thirty-five years in journalism, Dowie has won nineteen journalism awards and been nominated for the Pulitzer Prize.

To contact Guernica or Mark Dowie, please write here.

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