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“I do a number of things in regards to community building, trying to make a difference in the world,” Miles Davis said in a Thursday phone interview.
Decades before becoming the dean of the Harry F. Byrd Jr. School of Business at Shenandoah University, Miles Davis was growing up in a tough part of inner Philadelphia.
His 18-year-old brother, Scott, was murdered in 1987.
Davis, 54, was awarded the Martin Luther King Jr. Award for Justice Wednesday by the United Covenant Churches of Christ at its annual convocation in Tysons Corner.
“I do a number of things in regards to community building, trying to make a difference in the world,” Davis said in a Thursday afternoon phone interview. “Part of that [has to do with] education. I really do try to meet students where they are, to bring them in and allow people to benefit [from the] transformative nature of education.”
Davis, who became the dean of SU’s business school in July 2012, said he does consultant work with a project trying to reduce Chicago’s high murder rate. He works with Bishop James Dukes, who has moved into a home in the city where a family had been forced out by drug dealers.
Davis, who is not a member of the United Covenant Churches of Christ, said he wasn’t thinking about receiving accolades as he worked to improve the situation in Chicago. He referenced King.
“The awards weren’t important,” Davis said of the civil rights icon. “He tried to be a drum major for justice. Quite frankly, that’s how I try to live my life, try to make a better, more just world that we live in.
“To me, the issue doesn’t have to be from my hometown… it’s just about where can there be a difference made, where is there pain? The situation in Chicago is just so bad that we really do need to bring our best minds to it.” During the Fourth of July weekend alone, 11 people were shot to death in Chicago, and dozens more were wounded by gunfire.
Academic institutions are “under-utilized resources” when it comes to addressing serious issues, Davis said. He said businesses are also being looked at to help address Chicago’s issues.
“Why not pull in people who are interested in business, who can help transform communities by creating enterprise… to give them something to look forward to other than selling drugs or shooting people.” Davis said.
“I just know that these are people that are doing something. I work with whoever is out there — Christian, Muslim, Jewish, agnostic. If you’re trying to make a difference, I’m with you.
“I grew up in a very difficult, rough neighborhood. My little brother was murdered around the corner from my house. I have a different way of looking at these situations than maybe someone who’s always lived a life of affluence. Somebody helped me move [on] to the next day, so I’m always trying to reach back and help others make a difference in their lives.”
The United Covenant Churches of Christ have a focus on social justice, said Bishop George Gibson, who is diocesan bishop of the church in Pennsylvania and chairman of the church’s pastors division.
He’s got another connection to Davis — the business dean is Gibson’s nephew.
“I’m just really proud of him,” Gibson said. “[He’s] waving his banner of education.”
— Contact Sally Voth at [email protected]
By SALLY VOTH The Winchester Star
REPRINTED WITH PERMISSION OF The Winchester Star