The following tribute to Mr. Davenport was included in the Springfield and Central Illinois African American History Museum 2017 Gala program:
A founding member of the Springfield and Central IL African American History Museum, a former president of the NAACP and of the local Habitat for Humanity, Rudy Davenport exudes the spirit of “Citizen of the United States of America”. He has spent his lifetime working for justice for African Americans and others and years of seeking social and economic equality. These and other works grant him eminence in Springfield or anywhere else he chooses to show forth his wisdom and skill.
Rudy was born in Georgia but was raised in Chicago. He moved to Springfield in 1966 to work for the state of Illinois. He was one of the plaintiffs in the voting rights lawsuit that changed the structure of Springfield City government. He was chosen in 2001 for the eminent Copley First Citizen Award.
Rudy’s commitment to the Springfield and Central IL African American Museum led him to establish the Museum’s Capital Development Campaign. In the few years he has managed the fund he has enlisted many others to do either a direct deposit or a special donation to the fund that will eventually allow the museum to buy their own building. Rudy has lived his life based on his Faith in God and His principles.
In his oral history online with the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum, Mr. Davenport makes several statements demonstrating the intelligent probing he applies to life.
“…with awareness of some unevenness with your situation you want to change it, and you can become more knowledgeable of what inequities exist.” “Yes, a moderate life. A sacrificial life. It’s well to live well, but it’s even better to live responsibly.”
“If you ever expect to find change in your life, you must do something”.
We thank you, Mr. Rudy Davenport, for living a life committed to bring change to unjust circumstances, to correct inequities and to live responsibly.
By Elizabeth Alexander
Springfield and Central IL African American History Museum Board of Directors