S. Dale (Yana) Davis


As remembered by Grant Cooper, Southwide SSOC High School Organizer, 1968- 1969
July 25, 2020

Former Southern Student Organizing Committee (SSOC) organizer S. Dale (Yana) Davis very recently passed away in Birmingham, AL. I met Dale/Yana in 1968-1969 when I was SSOC's high school organizer. He was a couple of years older than me, but closer to my age than nearly everyone else at that time.

Yana was from a town in Alabama I can't recall, and was very much involved in SSOC's Alabama activities, such as they were. He and I later teamed up with a couple of other SSOC members just as the organization was in the process of collapsing and took an extended trip out to New Mexico together, visiting briefly with Jo & Barbara Neal, who had apparently moved to New Mexico from their Arkansas SSOC locale to the West.

Yana went on to earn his bachelor's degree from UAB and worked in communications and fundraising for a succession of NPR & Public TV stations across the U.S. Yana was a lifelong practitioner of Nichiren Shoshu meditation discipline, and he spoke about it to me, but never pushed it. He was married for a time.

I reconnected with Yana via the Internet nearly two decades ago, prepared resumes for him over the years (gratis, of course) as he applied for and got jobs, and we shared many phone conversations (sometimes for hours), up until some weeks ago.

He had called previously to let me know he had been in the hospital with pneumonia that did not test positive for COVID, but was discharged and felt he was going to be fine with a bit of rest in his Birmingham apartment. He sounded quite good to me and all seemed well.

Yana got his Master's degree in 2012 and greatly enjoyed teaching History to undergrads at UAB & a local community college as an adjunct professor. We shared lots of stories about his students, and we talked often about progressive politics...

He had a wry & engaging quality and sense of humor in all of his words. As modest as Yana's income was, he always found a way to donate small amounts to his favorites, like Bernie, AOC, Doug Jones, and others. He was very supportive of Biden's campaign once Bernie conceded.

I will miss Yana greatly.

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