DeMaris Nelson Davenport
Two days before our graduation on June 10, 1957 Jim Davenport ’54 and I were married. We have three sons who were born to us and three sons and a daughter who were not. Four of them live in the state of Tennessee. When we came to Tennessee in 1967, we were one of a few interracial families. Even the education professionals were prejudiced. Our Native American children did not look like any of the other children. They were neither black nor white. We had to help one of the younger boys deal with the pain of hearing his people referred to by some of his teachers as "savages". As in any family, living together taught us things we would otherwise have no way of knowing.
Two social issues have been most important to me in my professional life — poverty and domestic violence. The job I retired from in 2005 was as the parent involvement coordinator of the Chattanooga City Head Start program. My last position was so exciting and such a good fit for me and for them that it was difficult retiring from it. I retired in 2005 at the age of 70.
We have done some traveling since then and will do more of it after the home we are building is completed. The most recent trip we took was to Hawaii with Dave (’56) and Ann Beran Jones ’57. Several years ago we talked of a trip to Hawaii to celebrate our 50th anniversaries. It was delightful to travel with them again.
The home we are building is in the middle of 33 acres of forest, where we can enjoy the country and still be near Chattanooga, Tennessee, a city with a small town feel.
The other night Jim and I went to hear The Impressions, a black musical group which originated in Chattanooga. The audience was made up of white and black people. That is worthy of note because back in the early days of our living here, there would have been no whites participating in such an event. My education at Macalester set the stage for working actively to improve race relations in Chattanooga and hopefully in the country and world. I learned at Macalester that I was "charged" to assist in the healing of the world. As a result of that I became actively involved, along with Jim, in black and white dialogue groups in our city. We became friends and helped to keep the city "cool" during some "long hot summers". The teachers who were especially important to me were: Mary Gwen Owen, Doc Adams, Ted Mitau, Arnie Holtz, and Dean Doty.