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U of U celebrates new digital database honoring Utah’s Black history

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The University of Utah is celebrating a major step in helping to promote and preserve Black history in the state by launching a special database that’s named after a local community leader.

The France Davis Utah Black Archive will allow people to gather and contribute information about families and individuals in the Black community.

The database launch celebration happened at the J. Willard Marriott Library on University of Utah’s campus.

Dozens of supporters filled an auditorium to celebrate and listen to reflective words from Reverend Dr. France A. Davis.

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“It feels great to have a database named for you. Central to the database though, are the papers that I have provided,” Davis said.

He’s considered a pillar in Utah’s Black community, a well-known, respected and retired pastor of Calvary Baptist Church where he served for 45 years.

After decades of community activism as well as teaching at the University or Utah, Davis was given an Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters in 1993.

For Davis, life is now coming full circle since starting at the U in 1972.

“At that time, they hired 10 of us in order to integrate the University of Utah. That then affected the whole community and helped to integrate all of the community," he said.

With the new database, more people will have resources available to lean about Black history and see some of the work Davis has contributed in preserving Black history.

It’s a project that’s taken about a year from the first idea being discussed to the launch celebration of the U of U Library’s new database.

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“It’s named after France Davis, but his whole idea and mission behind it was to provide that space for African Americans to tell their experience about living and working and studying in Utah,” said librarian Allyson Mower.

Organizers behind launching the database said it was designed to allow people to upload information and ultimately contribute to Utah’s Black history.

Davis hopes this will be the beginning of more people learning and sharing information about his community.

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“I want the public to take advantage of the database by coming to the library or by accessing the library with technology so they can do better and more research about African Americans in Utah," he said.

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