Neil Owen Davis ‘35

Neil O. Davis ’35 was a newspaper publisher and editor who rose to prominence during the Civil Rights era for his stands on desegregation, public education and poverty relief.

A longtime newspaper editor in Auburn and Opelika known for his editorials advocating desegregation, increased support for public education and policies that helped the poor, Neil Owen Davis was a voice of reason in Alabama during the Civil Rights era.

After earning a Bachelor of Arts degree in science and literature, Davis founded the Lee County Bulletin (later the Auburn Bulletin) in 1937 at the age of 22, where he remained editor and publisher until he sold the paper in 1975. He also owned the Tuskegee News in 1964-75 and was its editor and publisher. His newspapers won numerous state and national awards, including three on the national level for best editorials. In the late 1970s, Davis was an adjunct professor of journalism at Auburn University.

Davis was founding member of the local Presbyterian Community Ministry, which supports low-income housing and a member of President Lyndon Johnson’s National Advisory Commission on Rural Poverty. He is a member of the Alabama Newspaper Hall of Honor and the University of Alabama Communication Hall of Fame. Davis remained an Auburn resident until his death in 2000.