William Boyd Allison Davis, widely as Allison Davis, was a pioneering educator and anthropologist who made history by becoming the first African-American to hold a faculty position at a major white university. The Washington, D.C. native was born October 14, 1902.
Davis attended Williams College in Williamstown, Mass., one of the three “Little Ivies” – a trio of small private liberal arts colleges in the Northeast. Davis then earned a master’s in Anthropology [some reports also add he earned a master’s in Comparative Literature as well] from Harvard University and then a Ph.D. from the University of Chicago.
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In 1942, Davis joined the faculty of the University of Chicago where he spent the bulk of his career. He was among the first scholars and researchers to challenge the cultural bias of standardized tests in school. Along with a number of notable colleagues, Davis introduced a study of the biased tests tailored towards the middle class and formulated his own intelligence test.
In 1967, Davis became the first educator elected into the American Academy of the Arts and Sciences. After he retired in 1978, he began writing his last work, “Leadership, Love & Aggression,” an examination of Frederick Douglass, W.E.B. Du Bois, Richard Wright, and Martin Luther King Jr., released in 1983.
Dr. Davis passed in November 1983 at 81 years of age.
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