MOBILE, Ala. (WKRG) – What activists describe as a 70-year-old murder finally gets recognition today. Rayfield Davis, a black man in Mobile, was killed in 1948 by a white co-worker after reports say Davis claimed one day blacks and whites would be equal. A ceremony was held Saturday to rename a portion of Tennessee Street in his honor. This small section of the road near Broad Street and train tracks sit on the ditch where Davis’s body was found in 1948.
“That the dream did not die in the ditch over there, it lives on in the hearts of the descendants of Rayfield Davis,” said a relative of Rayfield Davis during Saturday’s ceremony. Family members and organizers say Saturday’s commemoration is part of a healing process.
“To apologize particularly from my perspective as the chief of police to apologize to the community for the injustices that were done to families of color during an era when they couldn’t always see what justice looked like,” said Mobile Police Chief Lawrence Battiste. According to a recent report in the Washington Post, the man who killed Davis, Horace Miller is still alive. Davis family members say they’re more interested in peace than prosecution.
“90 years old I’m quite sure he’s suffered enough, and I’ve expressed my concern as far as him that we forgive him as a family and I’m just hoping and praying he’ll make peace with God,” said Davis Cousin Nichole Ulmer. The ceremony commemorates Davis and five other men killed in Mobile during the 1940’s where no one was prosecuted.
The ceremony coincides with the opening of an exhibit at the History Museum of Mobile showcasing the six Mobile cases investigated by the Civil Rights and Restorative Justice project. A marker will also be placed at the Tennessee Street site dedicated to all six men as part of the Dora Franklin Finley African American Heritage Trail.