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Home | LawMakers | Allison Davis
Color: Blue hues
Food: Harold's fried chicken
Quote: You can't be too paranoid.
Season: Summer
Vacation Destination: Martha's Vineyard since 1957
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Interview Description:

Biography |

Interview Date: 01/27/2017

Lawyer and real estate developer Allison S. Davis was born on August 31, 1939, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania to Elizabeth Stubbs Davis and Dr. William Allison Davis. His father was a prominent anthropologist at the University of Chicago, and his mother worked as his research assistant and later as a substitute teacher in the Chicago Public Schools. Davis attended the Cushing Academy in Massachusetts, and the University of Chicago Laboratory School, before graduating from Hyde Park High School. He went on to graduate from Grinnell College, before earning his J.D. degree from Northwestern University in 1964.

After graduating from law school, Davis and his wife moved to West Africa, where he worked for the U.S. Agency for International Development. Upon his return, Davis was critical of Chicago Mayor Richard J. Daley for his refusal to issue parade permits to protesters at the 1968 Democratic National Convention. Davis then founded, with a group of young attorneys, the Chicago Council of Lawyers, which worked to elect judges based on legal skills rather than their ties to the Cook County Democratic Party. Some of those attorneys joined Davis in setting up a small law firm— Davis, Miner & Barnhill—focused on civil rights litigation and helping community groups redevelop Chicago neighborhoods. In 1993, the firm hired Barack Obama straight out of Harvard Law School, and he worked there until he was elected to the U.S. Senate in 2004. Davis founded The Davis Group in 1996. He also served as a consultant on the 2003 film, The Human Stain.

Davis has been very active in organizations outside of his firm. He was appointed to the Chicago Public Building Commission by Mayor Harold Washington in 1986, to the Chicago Plan Commission by Mayor Richard M. Daley in 1991, and to the Illinois State Board of Investment by Governor Rod Blagojevich in 2003. He has served as a member of The Blue Ribbon Committee to Reform the Office of The Recorder of Deeds of Cook County, and served for 18 years on the Committee on Character and Fitness of the Supreme Court of Illinois. He served as a Director of RREEF America II for eleven years and was the director of the NAACP Legal Defense & Educational Fund.

Davis and his wife, Susan, live in Chicago, Illinois. They have two sons: Jared and Cullen.

Allison S. Davis was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on January 27, 2017.

Speaker Bureau Notes: