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It shouldn’t take this long to honor Bettye Davis’ life’s work

  • Author: Louie Overstreet
    | Opinion
  • Updated: February 12
  • Published February 12

Bettye Davis takes a lead over Don Smith in their school board race as she watches Tuesday April 2, 2013 at election central at the Dena'ina Civic and Convention Center. (Erik Hill / ADN)

Shortly after the passing of Sen. Bettye Davis, who also enjoyed a long tenure as a board member of the Anchorage School District, a summit was held in her honor in the latter part of February 2019.

At the conclusion of the summit, attendees passed a sense-of-the-body resolution to recommend a school facility be named in her honor.

A second summit will be held on Saturday, Feb. 29, at Bartlett High School. All the activities are open and free to the public, including a sponsored breakfast and lunch. Details of the summit can be found on the Alaska Black Caucus website.

Also of note, the State of Alaska House of Representatives on Feb. 14 passed HCR 12, “Dedicating Capitol Room 106 in the Alaska State Capitol to the late Senator Bettye J. Davis."

However, naming a school facility in honor of Bettye J. Davis is still at the committee level with the Anchorage School District. In an effort to expedite the process, I forwarded an email to the superintendent of the Anchorage School District.

In the email, it was stated “I understand the ASD is in the final stages of naming a facility in Bettye’s honor. I served as the chair that recommended naming the Career Center in honor of Dr. Martin King Jr., during a time Anchorage was experiencing racial strife caused by a person initiating a successful petition drive to remove his name form the Performing Arts Center in Downtown Anchorage.”

Please allow me to respectfully suggest, if this process can be completed by the date of the summit, Feb. 29, this would be an ideal time to announce what facility is being named in her honor. If this is doable, I am sure Celeste Hodge Growden would make this the highlight of this year’s summit.”

Based on the response I received from the ASD, I would respectfully and publicly suggest an updated recommendation that the three facilities under consideration, that were listed in the District’s reply to my email be presented as a voting option, complete with a voting booth at the summit to generate increased interest and support for the facility naming process. The attendees would vote their preference for the three facilities that are presently under active consideration.

• Airport Heights Elementary School

• Fairview Elementary

• East High School

I have my fingers crossed that ASD will agree to participate in this novel and fun approach.

Louie Overstreet lived in Alaska from 1975-1992. During that time, in addition to his career as an engineer, he was active in Anchorage community affairs. He was an editorial columnist for The Anchorage Times and the All-Alaska Weekly. He also served as president of the Alaska Black Caucus. He now resides in Las Vegas, Nevada.

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