Betty Davis Named Guest Speaker For MLK Jr. Reception in Fayetteville, Ark.

Tuesday, January 12 at 06:40 AM
Category: Arvest Community News
Join our Martin Luther King Jr. Day reception on Jan. 18 at 2 p.m. at the Arvest branch at 75 N. East Ave., Fayetteville, Ark. 
 
The guest speaker for the annual Arvest Martin Luther King Jr. reception was not allowed to attend high school in her hometown of Fayetteville but is now helping the Washington County Historical Society to document the history of Fayetteville’s black community.
 
Betty Davis, 90 and retired practical nurse, laboratory technician, Rusk Institute Laboratory manager and Navy veteran, spent a large part of her life in New York but retired in Fayetteville. 
 
Hosted each year in the lobby of the Arvest Bank on Fayetteville square, the reception honors the life and work of the great civil rights leader with a guest speaker, the Holcomb Honor Choir and winners of the Yvonne Richardson Center essay contest.
 
“We look forward each year to honoring the memory and legacy of Martin Luther King Jr.,” said Donny Story, CEO and President of Arvest Bank in Fayetteville. “Our annual reception is a great way to honor Dr. King while remaining open to better serve our customers.”
 
Davis was born December 21, 1925, to Leonard and Clara Hayes. Unable to attend high school in Fayetteville, she was sent to live with family in St. Louis in order to finish her education. 
 
After graduation, she joined the United States Navy in 1950 as a WAVES (Women Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Service) in order to attend college. Following boot camp she served in the Hospital Corp at Portsmouth Navy Hospital for two years. 
 
While attending New York University in Practical Nursing, she also attended a technical school to work as a laboratory technician. 
 
She went to work for Rusk Institute as a laboratory technician in 1954, an early pioneer for black women in the field. She was promoted to laboratory manager in 1957 and oversaw the laboratory until she retired in 1970. 
 
During her life Davis met and cultivated friendships with many of the leading figures of the Civil Rights Movement. Her speech will parallel many of the events in her life with the actions of King. 
 
After 39 years in New York, Davis returned to Fayetteville where she is a member of the Washington County Historical Society. Legally blind from diabetes, Davis has been married twice, first in the 1950s and again in 1963. Her husband is now deceased and she has no children. 
 
Tags: Arkansas, Community Support, Fayetteville, Press Release
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