France Davis

An American Story Told

As I was coming up, it was painful to me not to have been given my own nickname. It made me feel different, or rather that I was being treated differently from other family members. I wondered why everybody else was spoken to in terms of their identity, their character, their behavior, and I was simply identified by the 'tag,' my given name. But then, when I read in a book that France meant free, I began to think of it as imbuing me with a sense of flight, of movement. Ultimately, I came to believe my name spoke for itself and that I did not need any other.'—from the book

Imbued with rich detail of family life in a rural community, as well as a system of values at a time of transition in American history, this is the life story of France Davis, the dynamic pastor of the Calvary Baptist Church in Salt Lake City. It is an engaging story of courage and vision that describes coming of age in the segregation-era South, of dreaming, enduring with honor, and living at the forefront of major issues within the United States.

Recorded and skillfully written by Nayra Atiya, France Davis: An American Story Told, is an oral history, ethnography, memoir, perhaps even a life-enhancing sermon delivered with the strong voice of a preacher. The gathered strands of a life lived with conviction and grace will appeal to a broad spectrum of readers from the curious to those seeking inspiration.

Winner of the Utah Book Award in Nonfiction. 

Rev. France A. Davis is pastor of the Calvary Baptist Church in Salt Lake City.

Nayra Atiya was born in Egypt, raised in the United States, and now lives in Salt Lake City. She is an oral historian, writer, and translator. This is her sixth book.

Table of Contents:
1.  I Am Born and Later Burned
2. The Coopers and Cooper's Town
3. The Good Book and Our Goodly Heritage
4. Magazines, Books, and Stories
5. Lifelong Student
6. Calvary's Saturday School
7. Schools and Teachers
8. Two Institutions
9. What Mom and Dad Expected of Their Children
10. Death
11. Educational Opportunities
12. Church Homes
13. I Am Off to Tuskegee
14. Florida and the Call to Preach
15. Common Sense and Honoring Personal Needs
16. A Full-Time Obligation with My Family's Arms Around Me
17. A Good Name
18. Mrs. E. Louise DeBies
19. Destiny
20. The Visable Church
21. Sermons
22. The Pastor and His Family
23. Willene, Pastor's Wife
24. The Military and Elsewhere
25. A Student and His Ministry
26. Installation
27. Glass House
28. Time and Tasks
29. Ministers
30. Lessons
31. Basic Training
32. Texas
33. Las Vegas, Nevada
34. Southeast Asia
35. Dreaming and Sharing
36. Some Siblings and Our Old House
37. Educate the Head and the Heart
38. A Minister's Reputation
39. Sharecropping Neighbors
40. Responsibilities and Roles
41. Crafts
42. Mom
43. Dad
44. The Fruits of Summer
45. Body and the Soul
46. Born Again
47. It Takes a Village
48. Neighbors and Mutual-Aid Societies
49. The Little Store
50. Andrew Cooper and Family
51. Games
52. Money
53. Let Your Word Be Your Bond
54. Aunt Rena, Folklore, and Home Remedies
55. Medical Care
56. Peddlers and Storekeepers
57. Goldberg's
58. Company
59. Be Still, God Is at Work
60. Medicine for the Soul
61. Home
62. Burns: My Side of the Story
63. Burns: Willene's Side of the Story
64. Utah
65. Going Somewhere!


About Nayra Atiya

Praise and Reviews:

"Davis provides, without a doubt, significant information and details about who he is, not merely as a public figure but, perhaps more important, as a private man who is pastor, teacher, son, husband, father, and grandfather. Significantly, in the process he reminds us of where he came from. A candid portrait of an individual who is most complex, committed and spiritual. A compelling, moving, painful, and in the end, celebratory life. The book's strength is that it is well-written."—Utah Historical Quarterly

"His comments are so invigorating, I felt the urge to shout 'Amen.'"—Deseret Morning News

"A story worth telling."—Salt Lake City Weekly