Richard L. Davis
The Sage of Rendville
Rendville, Ohio 43730
“I say white brother, because I believe that to be the proper phrase, inasmuch as I believe in the principle of the fatherhood of God and the brotherhood of all mankind no matter what the color of his skin may be.” Richard L. Davis championed the cause of racial equality throughout the eastern coalfields, calling for an end to the color line and for all miners to unite against wage slavery. He was born in Roanoke County, Virginia in 1862 and arrived in racially integrated Rendville in 1882, where he became an organizer for the Knights of Labor. In 1886, a year after the Great Hocking Valley Strike, Davis wrote his first letters to the editor of the National Labor Tribune, establishing himself as voice for miners in the labor movement.
From 1890 to 1899, he wrote a total of 168 letters to the editors of the National Labor Tribune and the United Mine Workers Journal about the need to organize for fair wages and working conditions, and for racial equality in the mines. Davis was one of two African Americans from Ohio who attended the founding convention of the United Mine Workers of America held in Columbus, Ohio in January 1890. He next served for five years on the executive board of District 6 (Ohio) of the United Mine Workers of America before being twice elected to serve on its National Executive Committee in 1896-97. Blacklisted by mine operators, Davis fell on hard times and died in 1900. He is buried in Rendville Cemetery.
Rendville Historical Preservation Society
Ohio History Connection