A life of civil responsibility

The fight for civil rights has been an ongoing struggle, one that has greatly improved but has far to go. Judge L. Clifford Davis has advocated for these rights his entire life and has still contributed to the civil rights that we take for granted today. At 96 years old, he has lived an accomplished life and continues to promote equality for all by still advocating for it.

“In my high school, in the late thirties and early forties, every student was requested to join a civics club,” Davis said.

With this, Judge Davis’s interest in law and social justice began. In 1947, he was admitted to the University of Arkansas Law School, but he was forbidden to go into rooms where other white students were present. Davis then decided instead to complete his law degree at Howard University in Washington, D.C. In 1954, he took the Texas Bar and became one of the first two African American attorneys in Fort Worth. It didn’t take long after that for Clifford Davis to create change in our society.

“We had a totally segregated society,” Davis said. “The laws required segregation. It was a totally one sided system and people who were segregated were disadvantaged.”

Davis felt that these people needed a broader opportunity to participate in society. He engaged in activities designed to advocate for equal opportunities for all people, without regard to their race, religion, gender, education level, or any other social economic factor. That was his commitment as a lawyer, to work for the general welfare of the total environment. The city of Mansfield had a segregated school system. It was Clifford Davis’s lawsuit that initiated the desegregation of MISD. He was motivated by his passion for social justice and the need for all people to have equal opportunity.

“I started to practice law in 1949, the year I graduated from law school, and all of my career I have been in many ways an advocate for equal opportunity,” Davis said.

Judge Davis has helped the people of oppression through many ways. He would work against gerrymandering, which is a practice intended to give an unequal advantage for a particular party or group by changing district boundaries. This would oftentimes put African American people who are likely to vote Democratic in a situation where their votes are wasted. Davis has also worked to help gain equal opportunities in housing and ability to finance housing. He wants all people to be able to participate on an equal level in total society.

“I call it civil responsibility,” Davis said. “Civil rights I define as what society owes you, civil responsibility is what you owe society.”

Davis believes we owe it to society to treat every individual, no matter their race or gender or any other factor, with dignity and respect. We must openly advocate for what is declared in the constitution which include liberty, tranquility, and the general welfare. Everyone must benefit fairly and equally from the applications of those principles and continue to advocate for them because each individual is impacted by it.

Judge Clifford Davis is an inspiration. He has pushed through the hardships and challenges or what it is to be a minority in America. Many continue to struggle with discrimination all throughout their lives, and because of Davis’s urge to help, he has made great improvements. He became an advocate for social justice and has worked to promote equality for all people throughout his life. The civil rights movement still needs to be advocated for today, and everyone, no matter their background or social economic factors, must contribute in order to reach a total and equal society.