|VAN DAVIS, JR.|
He attended Willowbrook High School in Willowbrook, California. At the early age of 17, Davis, enlisted into the United States Navy. On his journey into manhood, he displayed his courage, dedication and excellence as a sailor, devoting four years of service.
Davis began his employment with the Los Angeles County Fire Department on August 19, 1953. He was the first African American employed with the Department. Although he retired at the rank of Fire Fighter, during another time he would have easily attained a chief officer ranking.
Davis achieved many firsts in his career. He was the first and only Black to hold the position of director with Local 1014 of the International Association of Firefighters. He was the first member outside the Los Angeles City Fire Department to hold the position of president of the Stentorians.
Davis actively worked as a recruiter to help Blacks and other minorities join the Los Angeles County Fire Department. He was the leading plaintiff in the discrimination lawsuit against the County which was tried before the United States Supreme Court. All Los Angeles County firefighters owe a great deal to Davis for his courageous fight to diversify the Department. Throughout his 20-year career in the fire service, there were no promotions of Blacks. The first promotion occurred on January 1, 1976. Today, there are over 250 Blacks employed by the Los Angeles County Fire Department.
Unfortunately, he passed away on December 29, 1991, but was able to see the results of his hard work and sacrifices before his untimely death. His son, Aquil Basheer, is currently a member of the Los Angeles City Fire Department and, like his father, is a devoted fighter for the equality of Blacks in the fire service abroad.