Television newscaster Belva Davis has witnessed a lot of unfolding history during her 45-year career in Bay Area television.
During her decades in the newsroom, she convinced Cuba’s Fidel Castro to give her a personal interview, ducked garbage and had the ‘N-word’ hurled at her as she covered the 1964 Goldwater nominating Republican convention in San Francisco; discussed the disparities built into California’s three-strikes law; and reported on AIDS and Occupy Oakland.
At 7:30 p.m., Thursday, May 17 she will talk about her time in television and how she overcame a harsh childhood, poverty, racism and sexism to become an admired journalist.
The event will take place at the Jewish Community Center, 1414 Walnut St. in Berkeley. She will be interviewed on-stage by TV news reporter Bill Schechner.
Davis was the first Black Female TV reporter in the Bay Area, hired in 1967 by Channel 5 after the manager of another San Francisco station turned her down, saying, “I’m sorry, but we just aren’t hiring any Negresses.”
Born in Louisiana in circumstances so poor that she was sent to relatives to raise, Davis came to Oakland in the 1940s, riding a segregated train.
She graduated from Berkeley High School but could not afford college. She bootstrapped her way into weekly newspaper work, then radio, and ultimately television.
She currently moderates Channel 9’s “This Week In Northern California,” a weekly look at major news stories by a panel of area correspondents.
Davis has written a memoir, “Not In My Wildest Dreams,” in which he talks about her career at Channels 9, 5, and 4, in which she reported about the big changes that rocked the Bay Area and country; population growth, student protests, hippies, the emergence of Gays as a strong political force, the food revolution, the Black Panthers, the Internet and Silicon Valley.
She reflects on the issues and the doubts she experienced as she raised two children and maintained a successful marriage.
“I talk about my story because we live in perilous times,” she said. “I wanted to show people, young people especially, that it is possible to keep going and fight for your dreams. And don’t be afraid of the space between your dreams and reality.”
Tickets for the speaking event are $10 ($8 for JCC Members and seniors) at the door or in advance at www.brownpapertickets.org