In Memoriam: Amanda Marie Davis
As metro-Atlantans and citizens from across the nation prepare to bid farewell to longtime journalist, news anchor and community servant Amanda Davis, we at Clark Atlanta University (CAU), her Alma Mater, prepare now to celebrate her tremendous legacy as a compassionate soul and an inquisitive thinker who modeled the very highest standards of professional competence, human kindness, personal grace and enduring faith--faith in her Spiritual grounding, in herself and in the community she loved.
Amanda came to Clark Atlanta University, then Clark College, from her native San Antonio, Texas, and in 1978 graduated Magna Cum Laude with a degree in broadcasting, a member of the institution’s inaugural Department of Mass Communications. She was hired immediately after commencement, working at a commercial station in Charlotte, N.C., then briefly at Satellite News Channel. She soon made her way back to Atlanta, where she held the anchor desk at WAGA, Atlanta’s FOX affiliate, for nearly 30 years. After a two-year retirement, she would conclude her career as morning anchor at WGCL, Atlanta’s CBS affiliate. For her excellent work, she received the coveted Edward R. Murrow Award, 10 Emmy Awards and the Atlanta Association of Black Journalists’ Pioneer of the Year Award. Even more impressive, she held the hearts and confidence of viewers in one of the nation’s top media markets throughout a career that balanced single parenthood, local and national demographic shifts and personal hurdles.
Amanda Davis embodied our motto, “I’ll Find a Way or Make One.” In a news culture where “the get,” securing the seemingly impossible news interview, is often how your audience and your peers measure your success and credibility, Amanda landed scores of major gets, ranging from 44th United States President Barack Obama, to iconic rapper LL Cool J, to Hollywood’s elite, Jim Carey and Arnold Schwarzenegger among them. Still, her hard-driving, stereotype-breaking work ethic never prevented her from lifting her own voice for the voiceless. Her commitment to promote the adoption of Atlanta’s foster children affirmed her compassion for others and occasionally evoked an on-air show of emotion. Of course, the many demands on her time and attention never hindered her enthusiasm for supporting her Alma Mater. As a mentor, a panelist, a loyal supporter of the CAU Guild--a scholarship organization for Clark Atlanta’s performing arts students, the voice of a University promotional video, or even as mistress of ceremonies for the University’s fourth presidential inauguration gala honoring President Ronald A. Johnson and Mrs. Irene Oakley Johnson. She gave the best of herself to this University. She was without fail a beacon of professionalism, the promise of reward for those willing to do the work, and the embodiment of a most righteous response to Luke 12:48, “to whom much is given, much is required.”
Because Amanda Davis’s life was a public one, so too were her shortcomings on display for all to see. While reports of her struggles with depression and alcoholism at one point became fodder for local and national headlines--personal trials that would have stifled weaker souls, Amanda characteristically clung to her profession and her unwavering faith: she was courageous in her introspection, relentless in getting to the root cause of her illnesses and absolutely transparent in sharing her recovery and her testimony with viewers. Never once did she seek to rationalize her faults. She owned them in the hope of helping others who suffered similarly. Even in what she described as her “rock bottom,” she once again illuminated a path so that others could find the Light. The sheer, inarguable grace with which she handled this chapter of her life underscores who Amanda Davis truly was: a study in composure, a strong force for truth and good, a brilliant yet humble professional and, most of all, a faithful child of God. How blessed we are to call her a daughter of Clark Atlanta University.
Earlier this academic year, Ms. Davis was selected to receive the University’s annual Pathways to Excellence Award during the University’s March 2018 Spirit of Greatness Gala. She will now, of course, receive the honor posthumously. Her example, her high standards and her character will nevertheless live on in the hearts, minds and the great spirit of Clark Atlanta University. So, too, will our prayers for her family, friends and colleagues.