Florida Senate - 2015                            (NP)    SR 12-A
       By Senator Joyner
       19-00030-15A                                           201512A__
    1                          Senate Resolution                        
    2         A resolution remembering the remarkable life and
    3         public service of former Senator Helen Gordon Davis
    4         and expressing a profound sense of loss in her
    5         passing.
    7         WHEREAS, Helen Gordon Davis was born on December 25, 1926,
    8  in New York City, and
    9         WHEREAS, when she was just 15 years old, Helen Gordon Davis
   10  became a “Powers Girl,” modeling for the John Robert Powers
   11  Agency in New York City, and
   12         WHEREAS, Helen Gordon Davis earned a degree in theater from
   13  Brooklyn College and appeared in George Bernard Shaw radio plays
   14  on New York City’s WNYC, and
   15         WHEREAS, in 1948, Helen Gordon Davis and her husband, Gene
   16  Davis, moved to Tampa, and in 1953, they built a home in Davis
   17  Islands, where they raised their three children, Gordon,
   18  Stephanie, and Karen, and
   19         WHEREAS, Helen Gordon Davis wholeheartedly embraced the
   20  role of wife and mother and continued to pursue creative
   21  endeavors by teaching high school drama and acting in community
   22  theater, where she won two Gaspar Awards, and
   23         WHEREAS, Helen Gordon Davis went on to earn a master’s
   24  degree in theater from the University of South Florida, and
   25         WHEREAS, Helen Gordon Davis’s striking good looks paled in
   26  comparison to her intellect, wit, integrity, and determination,
   27  which she demonstrated throughout her personal and public life,
   28  and
   29         WHEREAS, in the 1950s, Helen Gordon Davis emerged as an
   30  unlikely champion of civil rights after a bus driver refused to
   31  allow her black housekeeper to sit with her children in the
   32  front of a city bus on a shopping trip, and
   33         WHEREAS, shortly after the fateful shopping trip, Helen
   34  Gordon Davis marched down Nebraska Avenue, children in tow, to
   35  join the local chapter of the NAACP, becoming the first white
   36  woman in Florida to hold NAACP membership, and
   37         WHEREAS, the indomitable Helen Gordon Davis went on to join
   38  black patrons at a Woolworth’s lunch counter to press for
   39  desegregation of Tampa’s public facilities, and
   40         WHEREAS, in 1974, Helen Gordon Davis became the first woman
   41  from Hillsborough County elected to the Florida House of
   42  Representatives, where she encountered dismissiveness and, in
   43  some cases, hostility from a number of her male colleagues, and
   44         WHEREAS, despite this adversity, Helen Gordon Davis held
   45  fast to her commitment to fight institutionalized injustice
   46  against women, minorities, and the poor, championing legislation
   47  to benefit displaced homemakers and to ensure equal pay for
   48  women and minority state workers, and
   49         WHEREAS, Helen Gordon Davis was reelected six times to her
   50  seat in the House of Representatives and in 1988 was elected to
   51  the Florida Senate, where she served with great distinction for
   52  one term, and
   53         WHEREAS, with her husband, Helen Gordon Davis provided the
   54  financial support for the founding of Tampa’s Centre for Women,
   55  a pillar of support for victims of domestic violence and women
   56  facing financial ruin after divorce, which now bears her name,
   57  and
   58         WHEREAS, Helen Gordon Davis was the first recipient of the
   59  League of Women Voters of Hillsborough County’s Lifetime
   60  Achievement Award and was inducted into the Hillsborough County
   61  Women’s Hall of Fame by the Commission on the Status of Women,
   62  and
   63         WHEREAS, in an interview with the Tampa Bay Times, Helen
   64  Gordon Davis’s daughter, Stephanie Davis, remembered her mother
   65  as “a fierce warrior and a vanguard for social change who raised
   66  us all to be strong and independent and to follow our own path,”
   67  and
   68         WHEREAS, Helen Gordon Davis changed the face of the
   69  Legislature by challenging strongholds of discrimination and was
   70  fearless in fighting for the rights of all Floridians, NOW,
   73  Be It Resolved by the Senate of the State of Florida:
   75         That we pause to remember the remarkable life and public
   76  service of our friend and former colleague Senator Helen Gordon
   77  Davis and express a profound sense of loss in her passing.
   78         BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that a copy of this resolution, with
   79  the Seal of the Senate affixed, be presented to Gordon,
   80  Stephanie, and Karen Davis as a tangible token of the sentiments
   81  of the Florida Senate.