Davis, William Leonard (unknown–unknown)

By: Diana J. Kleiner

Type: Biography

Published: December 1, 1994

Updated: August 31, 2016

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W. L. Davis, black newspaper editor and Houston civic leader, edited the Western Star newspaper until its demise in 1914. In August of that year Davis was elected president of the Teachers State Association of Texas. He later served as a trustee of Butler College, secretary of the State Sunday School Convention, vice president of the National Baptist Sunday School Congress, and superintendent of the Sunday school at Antioch Baptist Church. In 1918 he was secretary of the executive board of the Negro Division of the Federal Food Administration, and in 1920 he ran unsuccessfully for the state Senate. Davis was a coplaintiff with Charles N. Love, editor of the Texas Freeman, and others in filing for an injunction to test the validity of the white primary at Houston in 1921. Love and Davis retained R. D. Evans of Waco to handle the case, which eventually was decided in the United States Supreme Court against the plaintiffs.

Alwyn Barr, Black Texans: A History of Negroes in Texas, 1528–1971 (Austin: Jenkins, 1973). Big Town, Big Money (The Business of Houston) (Houston: Cordovan Press, 1973). Darlene Clark Hine, Black Victory: The Rise and Fall of the White Primary in Texas (Millwood, New York: KTO Press, 1979). Andrew Webster Jackson, A Sure Foundation and a Sketch of Negro Life in Texas (Houston, 1940). Howard Jones, The Red Diary: A Chronological History of Black Americans in Houston and Some Neighboring Harris County Communities-122 Years Later (Austin: Nortex Press, 1991).


  • Journalism
  • Newspapers
  • Editors and Reporters
  • Peoples
  • African Americans

Time Periods:

  • Progressive Era
  • Texas in the 1920s


  • Houston
  • Upper Gulf Coast
  • East Texas

The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this entry.

Diana J. Kleiner, “Davis, William Leonard,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed September 21, 2021, https://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/entries/davis-william-leonard.

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

December 1, 1994
August 31, 2016

This entry belongs to the following Handbook Special Projects: