AUBURN – Alabama writer and prize-winning journalist Wayne Greenhaw will give The Neil and Henrietta Davis Distinguished Lecture, Wednesday, Feb. 25, at 5 p.m., in the auditorium at The Hotel at Auburn University and Dixon Conference Center. The public program is presented by Auburn University’s Department of Communication and Journalism.
The Davis Lecture Series was established in 1996 to honor the late Neil O. and Henrietta W. Davis and to encourage excellence in journalism. The series features distinguished journalists who can inspire students to follow the spirit and the principles embodied in the couple’s life and work.
“What’s inspiring about Wayne Greenhaw and writers like him is that they are continuing the courageous, diligent work of Neil and Henrietta Davis,” said John Carvalho, journalism program director. “The Davis family did more than establish this lecture series; they inspired the lecturers.”
Greenhaw and Donnie Williams co-authored “The Thunder of Angels: The Montgomery Bus Boycott and the People who Broke the Back of Jim Crow,” which was published by Chicago Review Press in the fall of 2005. A reviewer wrote, “This revelatory book tells the bone-deep truth of the Montgomery Bus Boycott, a pivotal moment in the civil rights struggle.”
Greenhaw was a Nieman Fellow at Harvard University in 1972-73, while he was a reporter for The Alabama Journal in Montgomery. In the 1980s, he was editor and publisher of Alabama Magazine, a political, financial and lifestyle monthly publication. In the early 1990s he was a columnist with The Alabama Journal and The Montgomery Advertiser. Born in north Alabama, Greenhaw has published 21 books of fiction and nonfiction. As a columnist and reporter, he has published hundreds of articles in regional, national and international publications including The New York Times, Atlantic Monthly, Reader’s Digest and The Writer. He has also written for stage and television and worked as an editor and writing teacher.
“I consider it a great honor personally and professionally to be chosen to give a lecture in the name of my old friend Neil Davis and his wife Henrietta,” Greenhaw said. “For me, Neil Davis personified the essence of good journalism. He was not only a top-flight professional with the highest ethical priorities, he was a true gentleman in every sense of the word. When I speak at Auburn, I will think of Neil being in the front row, watching and listening.”
Neil Owen Davis founded The Lee County Bulletin in 1937 and served as publisher and editor for 40 years. He was a 1935 Auburn graduate and a Nieman Fellow whose incisive editorials won state and national awards and were reprinted in such publications as The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Louisville Courier-Journal and The Atlanta Constitution. Henrietta Worsley Davis, also a 1935 graduate, was the newspaper’s associate editor and chief reporter. Her precise and complete coverage of civic matters, particularly education, made The Bulletin a staple in Auburn homes and a model for weekly newspapers across the nation.
The couple devoted their professional lives to making their newspaper an agent for positive change in the community, giving a voice to the voiceless and advancing the cause of civil rights in Alabama and throughout the Southeast. Neil Davis also taught courses in journalism at Auburn University.
The Davises’ purchase of The Tuskegee News to provide coverage of the black community in Macon County and their responsible reporting on numerous events such as the desegregation of Auburn University and Auburn’s public schools are widely considered vital acts of leadership during troubled times. Both have been inducted into the Alabama Press Association’s Hall of Honor on the Auburn campus.
The Davis Lecture is endowed by the gifts of the Davis family and friends, distinguished journalists, their newspapers and Auburn University alumni and faculty.
For more information, contact Ed Williams, Department of Communication and Journalism, firstname.lastname@example.org and (334) 844-4579.
(Contributed by Ed Williams.)