Hometown News celebrates Black History Month with a look at Eva Belle Favors Davis, honored this past October with the name change of old East Lake Blvd., when Atlanta decided to call it Eva Davis Way. Eva was in 1971 among the earliest residents of old East Lake Meadows—now known as the Villages of East Lake—when it was a crime-ridden project of the Atlanta Housing Authority.
Elected president of her local tenants association, Eva led rent strikes for major improvements: better lighting, more sidewalks and a day care center. The neighborhood had almost turned into a drug war zone, infamously known as “Little Vietnam.” But Eva Davis was undaunted.
Starting with the Civil Rights Movement in the 1970s, Davis helped the Rev. Joseph Boone with Voter Registration drives. She lent her direct action community support to Jimmy Carter, U.S. Rep. John Lewis, and Atlanta Mayors Maynard Jackson and Andrew Young.
A turning point for the East Lake community was in 1996, when at a tenant meeting Eva Davis courageously rallied fellow citizens in favor of redevelopment—this in spite of drug dealers menacing the meet-ing and intimidating residents who wanted to do the right thing. Atlanta Mayor Shirley Franklin heard about the vote and became a staunch supporter of Eva Davis. Atlanta Housing Authority came on board and de-veloper Tom Cousins gave his considerable support. The result: East Lake became the stellar community that we know today, gaining a charter school, YMCA and PGA championship golf course.
The remarkable community advocate Eva Davis, 76, died of complications of ovarian cancer at her East Lake home in 2012. She was survived by 3 daughters, 5 sons, 32 grandchildren, and 33 great-grandchildren. In honor of her exemplary life as a citizen and leader, Atlanta City Council voted to rename East Lake Blvd. to Eva Davis Way. It’s a fitting tribute for a brave and good woman who made a dramatic difference for betterment in her Atlanta community.
– Dr. Paul Hudson