McKinley Davis

55BA Service 1999

McKinley "Deacon" Davis, 55BA, co-founder of the Iowa Black Alumni Association, is a national sales director with Primerica/A Member of Citigroup and a former Harlem Globetrotter. An ambassador of goodwill throughout his distinguished career, Davis has shared his leadership skills and financial resources with his community and with the University of Iowa.

Basketball stardom wasn't enough for Davis. The ex-Hawkeye team captain came out of college with a three-year contract to play with the Harlem Globetrotters. But after riding with his new team through the country's southern cities, where he witnessed firsthand the racial segregation and extreme poverty that Martin Luther King, Jr. and other black leaders were fighting, Davis asked the Globetrotters to let him go. He had decided he wanted to do something more than entertain people. He wanted to help them.

Determined to join the battle against the social and economic inequities plaguing black communities, Davis began work in 1958 as director of Washington Park Community Center in Rockford, Illinois, near his hometown of Freeport. Over the next ten years, he helped thousands of people in his old neighborhoods achieve greater prosperity, working with various community organizations as either a director or board member.

Recognizing higher education as a road to prosperity minorities might miss, Davis took a position as assistant to the president of Northern Illinois University (NIU) in 1968. He developed the Complete Help and Assistance Necessary for a College Education (CHANCE) program, enabling many students to secure the financial means for obtaining a college degree. Davis spent his last five years at NIU as executive director of Intercollegiate Athletics, and, during this time, he created a women's athletics program to meet new Title IX regulations requiring equal status with the men's program.

In his latest role as a national sales director with Primerica/A Member of Citigroup, Davis creates opportunities for families to improve their security and quality of life through customized analysis of their financial situations. As a successful entrepreneur in this field, he is a valued member of Primerica's Golden Eagle Club, as well as the organization's Office Supervisory Jurisdiction Board.

Davis has generously shared his leadership acumen and resources with the University of Iowa. In 1963, he helped launch the IBAA, and for 20 years he served as the organization's chair. From 1978 to 1988, he served as the university's representative on the Big Ten Advisory Board. Working with the UI, Davis promoted alternatives to assist African-American students academically and financially. And, over the years, many black students have benefited from the Iowa Black Alumni Association Scholarship Fund that he organized.

Davis is a life member of the UI Alumni Association.

Join our email list
Get the latest news and information for alumni, fans, and friends of the University of Iowa.
Iowa Stories
Iowa Magazine
Explore the Winter 2018-19 edition of the Iowa Magazine.