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The Davis Family

When Barbara Davis and Lem Davis, Jr. moved their young family to Lake Jackson in 1964, they became the first African American family to live in the city since it was officially incorporated in 1943. The two oldest Davis children - Johnita and Brian - were the first Black students to integrate Elisabet Ney Elementary School. The youngest Davis child, Cheryl, was born in Lake Jackson and similarly pioneered integration.

Lem was hired as a research chemist for Dow Chemical and went on to lead a successful career there for over 30 years, which included receiving two U.S. patents. Barbara was a skilled medical technologist and worked in several positions in hospitals throughout Harris and Brazoria counties until her passing in 2018.

After several real estate agencies refused to show Lake Jackson properties to the couple on account of their race, Bob Jorday of ABC Realty helped the family move into a house on South Yaupon Street.


Lem remembers hostility from their neighbors:

"I had some trouble with the neighbors in back of us and had to put a fence up because they were torturing my kids... throwing things at them and calling them names when they got off the bus."

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Lem Davis, Jr. with his children, Johnita and Brian, in front of their South Yaupon home, circa 1965.

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Barbara Davis served as medical technologist supervising all laboratory facilities at Angleton-Danbury Hospital. Originally published in the February 19, 1970, issue of The Angleton Times (Angleton, TX).

The most infamous incident occurred when the Davis family returned home to find crosses burning in their yard, a racist intimidation tactic used by white supremacists to scare Black families. With the constant threat of violence, Lem often stationed himself in front of his home with a gun prepared to defend his family. The Davis parents lived in a perpetual state of worry.

Lem remembers when word of the racist attacks got to Dow Chemical management:

"The man who was running Dow's plant at the time called me in one day... He said, 'If it's necessary, we'll put an armed guard on each side of your house, but we're not gonna let them run you out of town.'"


The family moved to a new house on Narcissus Street in 1972. Overt racist violence diminished over time as more Black families moved to the area. However, discrimination continued. For instance, after nearly a decade at the Angleton-Danbury General Hospital, an administrator terminated Barbara's supervisory position because of her race. Still, the family persevered.


Today, the Davis family are remembered as successful and courageous pioneers for racial equality in education, industry, healthcare, and civic life in Lake Jackson.

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