Belva Davis was born Belvagene Melton on October 13, 1932, in Monroe, Louisiana. She is the eldest of five children. Her father, John Melton, was a sawmill worker. Her mother, Florence Howard Melton, was a laundress. By 1940, the Melton family moved to Oakland, California. There, her father worked for the Navy and her mother worked for Southern Pacific Railroad.
Melton attended Berkeley High School. She became the first person in her family to earn her high school diploma when she graduated in 1951. She considered college but could not afford it. Instead, she got married to Frank Davis at the age of 19. They had two children together but their marriage ended. She also worked as a typist for the Oakland Naval Supply Center.
In 1957, Davis landed a freelance writing job with Jet Magazine. Her freelancing ultimately led to a part-time position. Freelancing did not support her household too well but she had discovered her calling.
From there, Davis landed a position with the radio station KSAN in San Francisco, in 1961. She became the first Black woman to work for that station. She landed another job with the radio station KDIA. There, she hosted her own two-hour show. She often spoke on topics such as race, gender, and politics.
In 1963, Davis transitioned from radio to television. She accepted a freelance assignment from station KTVU-TV in Oakland, providing coverage of a beauty pageant for Black women. Knowing nothing about the topic, she studied books about TV production at the library.
By 1966, co-anchor Nancy Reynolds was leaving her position at KPIX-TV. Davis was among 60 other applicants to vie for the position. She landed the job and became the first Black woman TV reporter on the West Coast. She also met her second husband, Bill Moore, the first Black cameraman at a major TV station in the Bay Area.
Davis co-created and hosted All Together Now. The segment was one of the first public affairs programs spotlighting communities of color in the U.S. She later co-founded and hosted similar segments, A Closer Look and Evening Edition. She then worked as an anchor for KRON-TV until 1999.
Davis won a myriad of awards over the course of her career. She was recognized by the National Association of Black Journalists and won several local Emmy Awards. In 2010, she wrote her autobiography, Never in My Wildest Dreams: A Black Woman’s Life in Journalism. At the age of 85, Belva Davis is now retired and lives in Petaluma, California with her husband.
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