County commissioners rename park for Anita Davis
By St. Clair Murraine
Outlook staff writer
Renaming Lake Henrietta Park for former county commissioner Anita Davis was just something that Delaitre Hollinger felt was overdue.
Hollinger, president of the Tallahassee chapter of the NAACP and an historian, thought her body of work validated such a distinction. But what county commission staff unfolded in search of Davis’ political resume left Hollinger feeling even more justified about his suggestion to the commission for renaming the park for Davis.
Davis was the driving force behind a clean-up effort that restored Lake Munson and eventually Lake Henrietta. She assembled the Lake Munson Action Team Task Force to ensure clean up of the two lakes that flow to Wakulla Springs.
“It was a need,” Davis said of her commitment to the clean up.
The discovery surprised him, said Hollinger, because Davis is best known for her work as former NAACP president and her community activism.
“I did not realize just how appropriate renaming Lake Henrietta Park in her honor would be,” Hollinger said.
He took the idea of renaming the lake in Davis’ honor to Commissioner Nick Maddox in late April. Within three weeks, the commission unanimously decided to rename the lake Anita L. Davis Preserve at Lake Henrietta Park.
Davis was floored when she got word that the honor was about to happen.
“When I heard through the grapevine that this was being planned, I was happy about that,” said Davis, who last served as a county commissioner more than two decades ago. “I was thrilled.”
The honor makes Davis the first Black woman for whom a county facility has been named. A date for the renaming ceremony hasn’t been set, said Hollinger, but he expects it to happen after a $3,000 sign with the new name has been purchased.
Davis, whose living room walls are covered with numerous awards, said she is eagerly anticipating the day the ribbon is cut.
“That’s the biggie,” she said. “That’s the evidence.”
Lake Henrietta is located off Spring Hill Road, fewer than two miles from Davis’ home in Jake Gaither neighborhood.
The process that got the ball moving during the commission meeting was just as surprising as the honor. Bill Proctor, who had a hotly contested campaign 22 years ago when he unseated Davis, was the one to bring the motion to the floor.
“I lifted it up,” Proctor said. “It was a request and I certainly wasn’t going to allow anybody to take up the mantle to advocate for a good, positive honor like that. I felt that’s something I should have done for Mrs. Davis.
“It’s the idea of perpetuating worthiness and a value of a lady who stood for leadership and a voice at a time when it was difficult to find people who stood up and be a voice. You have to give credit to Mrs. Davis for being willing in her era to stand up and be that one who gets that blow back. ”