Fred Davis looks back on the civil rights movement

MEMPHIS, Tenn, —He’s been in business for over a half a century, Fred Davis is the man behind the Fred L. Davis Insurance Agency.

It opened in 1967 and at the time was the first black-owned insurance agency in the south.

Davis says, “When I opened this agency, there had never been a black policy writing broker in six states surrounding here.”

A year later he followed his passion for politics into a seat on the newly formed Memphis City Government.

“The sanitation strike happened in my second month in my tenure on the new council. now the agitation had been going on for a long time, and what many people don’t recognize, is that the sanitation workers were the champions of the mayor who denied them,” said Davis.

Davis recalls the then mayor, William Ingram was elected with the support of the sanitation workers, but when he got into office, Davis says the mayor did something for every section of city government except the sanitation department.

“Ingram is the one who got the injunction against them marching, when King came in he didn’t have to get a new injunction, he just used the one that was already there,” said Davis.

He says many of the issues between city leaders and the sanitation workers were inherited from the previous government, and eventually the workers went on strike and Dr. Martin Luther King Junior came to Memphis to help with the situation.

Davis was also the founding director of the Midsouth Minority Business Council.

He says the city of Memphis cannot prosper without the growth of African American entrepreneurship.

It is Davis’ connection with the community, and his ability to train and introduce others to the insurance industry that is his pride and joy.

“In terms of my pride and contributions, I feel pretty good,” said Davis.

“A number of other black people got an opportunity in the insurance industry as a result of my survival.”