Elyria Black Legacy Connection remembers pioneer Lewis Davis
The city of Elyria earned its nickname of pioneers thanks to the diligence and drive of the residents who embodied the definition of the word.
At the time of its creation, Elyria had a small population of black citizens, but some have become well known and respected.
Lewis Davis was born into slavery and worked his way from that time to become a highly respected businessman in Elyria in the late 1800s.
“He was considered one of the first prominent black pioneers,” said Ethan West, founder of Elyria Black Legacy Connection. “He was a big businessman who owned property and also had a big family.”
Davis was a popular gunner who hauled cargo all over town.
He was well known for his incredible physical strength, reliability, and mindset.
“One of the stories about him is that he was strong as an ox and could do a three-way job,” West said. “Given the time in his life, I think he set the tone when it came to physical and mental strength.”
Davis became one of Elyria’s first black business owners and described the importance of hard work, believing in yourself and inspiring others to do the same, West said.
Following in her footsteps, Davis’ third great-granddaughter, Shonia Evette, is also an entrepreneur.
Evette owns the brand, Destined 4 Greatness (D4G), and said the spirit of her great-grandfather is reflected in her passion for success.
“Thank you Mr. Lewis Davis, many have never heard of you but have your mind,” Elyria Black Legacy Connection said in a statement. “You are a true pioneer of what you have achieved in life. Elyria thanks you.
The Elyria Black Legacy connection was conceptualized by Ethan West.
“I’ve been curious for years about local black history, and that’s what sparked this,” he said. “As much as I have learned over the years, I had a desire to share and saw no consistency in our stories being told.”
West said the band also tries to focus on the pioneers backstory.
“One thing we did was find out the journey that led to these individuals and the life before them,” he said. “We all have a story that includes the ancestry and lineage before us that laid the foundation for us to be successful.”
Committee member and legacy researcher Aric Bowen said the Black History Month spotlight has been eye-opening.
“During the month, we focused on trailblazers within the community who made a big impact, whether through wealth or community service,” Bowen said. “They not only inspired the black community, but all of Elyria. It’s been really exciting and interesting to learn about, and I’m looking forward to discovering more pioneers that we haven’t covered.
The committee is made up of members Michael Bowen, Stacey Balmuta, Amanda Sword Ameerah Washington, Marcus Dowdell Sr., Isaac M Johnson, Rachel Jackson and Shonia Evette.
Contact Elyria Black Legacy Connection by email at [email protected]