Erma Lee Glasco Davis was born in Keo, Arkansas and was reared in south central Little Rock, also known as the South End. She is a product of the Little Rock Public School System, graduating from Dunbar High School in May, 1945. She received her Bachelor of Science degree from AM&N College (now the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff). A year or so after the Central High desegregation crisis of 1957, she and her husband moved to Detroit, Michigan and the Doctor of Philosophy degree from the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor.
Most of Dr. Davis’ professional career was spent in Detroit, Michigan as a teacher, counselor and administrator. She retired from an administrative position in the Detroit Public Schools’ Management Academy. She also taught as an adjunct professor at Marygrove College in Detroit. While in Detroit, Dr. Davis has had a wealth of community involvement, serving in leadership positions on boards and committees and in organizations ranging from the NAACP to Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority. In 1979, she co-chaired the Mayor’s Education Task Force for Detroit’s International Year of the Child event. In 1987, she won the Spirit of Detroit Award, the city’s highest community-service award.
Dr. Davis is a past national president of the National Dunbar Alumni Association, and is co-author of a book about the school, Paul Laurence Dunbar High School of Little Rock. She has been instrumental in marrying the goals of the association with those of the Mosaic Templars Cultural Center, the state-funded museum which showcases the history and achievements of black Arkansans. A fruit of that marriage is the museum’s Dunbar exhibits on the museum’s first floor. She is passionate about educating people on Dunbar’s role in the state’s history.
In 1990, Dr. Davis moved back to Arkansas form Michigan. After her return, she quickly busied herself with community work, sitting on the boards of the Central High Museum and the Arkansas Humanities Council; taking two turns as chairman of the board of the Historic Arkansas Museum Foundation; she also chaired the gala for the opening of the Mosaic Templars Cultural Center. In addition, Dr. Davis worked nearly four years as a founding volunteer for the Clinton Presidential Central. In 2005, she was appointed by then-Governor Mike Huckabee to the State Review Committee for Historic Preservation, and reappointed by Governor Mike Beebe in 2007. In 2009, she was inducted into the Arkansas Black Hall of Fame.
For more on Dr. Davis and other inductees into the Arkansas Black Hall of Fame, visit the permanent exhibit at the Mosaic Templars Cultural Center. That museum is an agency of the Department of Arkansas Heritage.