Adrienne M. Davis, secretary of the Plymouth-Canton school board, started as an active parent and has now served on the board for almost five years.
Elected in 2009, she is the first black school board member. The second, Kim Crouch, joined Feb. 5 to fill an open seat. Davis is one of the modern-day community leaders and trailblazers whom Patch is highlighting in recognition of Black History Month.
Her participation in the district started in her role as an active parent. Her two children – Jared, 17, who will graduate from Plymouth High School this year; and Brandon, 19, who is currently attending Schoolcraft Community College – went to school in the district.
Davis, a 14-year Plymouth resident, helped address a 2001 incident in the district during Black History Month. She said a high school student wrote an op-ed in the school paper questioning why such a month was needed, which angered students and parents. She said people in the community are open and inclusive, but there’s always an exception.
“It’s a teachable moment,” she said.
She used the incident as an opportunity to explain to the school board, educators and students why Black History Month is needed, she said. Davis said it goes back to a time when black Americans were not considered a valid part of the country’s history.
“The purpose is to highlight achievements and positive contributions,” she said. “It’s not just for African Americans, it’s for everyone.”
She said a perfect example is Madam C. J. Walker. Walker is considered to be the first self-made female millionaire in the U.S., by developing a successful line of beauty and hair products for black women in the early 1900s.
She was also part of a group that led the district in observing Martin Luther King, Jr. Day as a holiday, she said.
Davis is also a founding member of the Plymouth Canton Citizens for Diversity and Inclusion. She said diversity should be looked at as a winning proposition that will build a better community.
“Adrienne was helpful to me in understanding other perspectives and other communities,” said Lee Harrison, principal of Isbister Elementary for 19 years and district employee for 36.
Davis’ work goes beyond race. She was one of the representatives honored in 2011 on the White House Lawn by First Lady Michelle Obama in recognition of the district’s “Healthy Foods in Schools” initiative. She also founded Different Drums, Inc., which provides resources to teach children the principles of entrepreneurship.