Kalisha Davis


Kalisha Davis


In this interview, Kalisha talks about how Detroit was in the decade she was growing up. She mainly talks about her neighborhood, Northwest Detroit. Toward the end she talks about how the innocent neighborhood turns violent due to economic condition.


Detroit Historical Society




Detroit Historical Society


Narrator/Interviewee's Name

Kalisha Davis

Brief Biography

Kalisha Davis was born in Providence Hospital Southfield in June of 1976. She was adopted at 3 months old and moved to the city of Detroit where she lived her entire life. She grew up in Northwest Detroit, a neighborhood she identifies as slightly integrated. She is currently residing at Southfield Mi.

Interviewer's Name

Tarek Miah

Interview Place

Detroit, Michigan




Start of track:

TM: Where and when were you born?

KD: Actually, I was born in Providence Hospital Southfield in June of 1976.

TM: When did you come to Detroit?

KD: My family is from Detroit, I just happened to be born in Southfield, I was actually adopted at three months, and my family lived in the city of Detroit so I’ve lived here for my entire life with the exception of being born in Southfield. So, you can say Detroit if it's easier, but I was technically born in Providence Hospital.

TM: When you moved to Detroit was it long after you born or is it...?

KD: Like, few months after I was born, I was adopted by my parents who lived in Northwest Detroit

TM: I see, you were here pretty much all your life, did you ever move out of Detroit?

KD: Nope, Nope, my parents were still here.

TM: What neighborhood in Detroit did you grow up in?

KD: In Northwest Detroit, it never had any name, it’s between 8 mile and 7 mile and telegraph.

TM: So, what was your neighborhood like when growing up?

KD: It was a lot of fun, it was a pretty large subdivision and a lot of children were in my age lived in the area. Lots of playing outside, riding bicycles, my parents would hold BBQ, especially when I was pretty young. Great big BBQ where a ton of people would show up, some that we knew and some that we didn’t, so yeah, lots of. Halloween, trick treating, and birthday parties in the backyard those kinds of stuff.

TM: Sounds pretty fun. Was it an integrated neighborhood?

KD: There were few white people that had decided to stay in the community but for the most part it was African American

TM: Where did your parents work?

KD: My dad worked for Ford motor company

TM: And your mother, did she work?

KD: She worked at a retail, primarily selling shoes initially of off livernoise. It was considered a business district.

TM: Where did you usually go shopping when you lived here?

KD: There were quit few grocery stores for basic kind of errands and stuff in the city, not far from where I lived. There was a grocery store like 5 in away on 8 mile and Lashor. There were also a fish market and a fruit market, not too far away maybe about 10 min away. The bank and the bakery and all of those places. My parents would usually head up in different parts of the neighborhood to do all those things.

TM: I see, pretty much everything was there in Northwest Detroit, right?

KD: Yes

TM: Where did you go to school?

KD: For elementary school I went to Saint Thimothy and Saint Scolasika. Saint Thimothy was on evergreen road, both were in Northwest Detroit.

TM: Can you tell men little bit about your school how the environment was?

KD: Sure, and then high school was Renaissance High School, and that was definitely Detroit. Both elementary schools were focused on fundamentals of learning, making sure were grounded with a lot of important information that we would need as we get older. Lots of reading, participating in reading program, lots of book reports, science reports and all those other stuffs including Science fair. Learned a lot of stuff. By the time got to the 8th grade I was pretty much ready for High School and English is something that I excelled in, I loved to read books and I was a very good writer. By the time I got to High school that definitely carried over and I got into journalism. Writing for our School newspaper and learning more about that particular, I ended up studying that in undergrad at college.

TM: I see you have done a lot of stuff in high school.

KD: Yeah, there were good extracurricular activities, I wasn't really a sporty kind of person but yeah drama, newspaper, yearbook those are areas I contributed to.

TM: Are there any stories from your childhood about your neighborhood that you would like share? Like any significant stories?

KD: I just remember being in a good community to grow up in. Really caring neighbors. The Donors who lived right next to us was older white couple actually and he kept his lawn very meticulous, that was something he was very passionate about and at that time he was retired. And he was a very nice person, he would always look out for me as a little girl because I didn’t have any siblings and my parents were working. When I was little, I always tried to venture out further and further away from the house and one time I had the baby carriage and I walked, I was pretty small, and I walked the other way down the street. He was trying to pay attention and he went to go tell my parents she is down the street. It was nice having someone like him and Mr. Williams across the street. They would always make sure you are okay.

TM: It's always id nice to have somebody who cares. You said you pretty much grew up here, did you feel safe and comfortable in the city?

KD: Yeah, because I was living in the city, it was a working-class neighborhood. Everyone took care of their homes and all the children. I never felt unsafe in my neighborhood, we had groups of kids, we never had gangs or stuff but little groups of kids who would hang out. We had one kid we called Bambam, I remember I had just started driving and an ice storm had hit and then we were still in the high school and they send us home in the middle of the ice storm which didn’t make any sense. It was literally like ice all over the ground, and so India and one of my other friend Stacy who lived around the block got in my car and you know we were trying to ride home, about 15-20-minute drive, and there was ice everywhere, people were sliding around. We got into the neighborhood, but I couldn’t get my car up the driveway because it was all iced up and were sliding back down. I remember Bambam had a bunch of boys who would follow him, they came up behind me and pushed my car up the drive way and secured it so the car wouldn't slide. Before I can even get out and say thank you, they were all gone down running down the street helping other people. So that was kind of people who lived in our neighborhood.

TM: You had some pretty nice neighbors. In the decade you were growing up how was entire Detroit like?

KD: Generally, I don’t remember anything, I will watch like in the news or sometime you here some problems. I think socially in mid to late 80s Devils night was something that had kind of marched the city on the national level. Like people would start fires, do crazy stuff before Halloween and that became national news. There were more negative perception watching the media than I had in my own personal experience. In high school we would take the bus from that part of Detroit to back home, we had to get on couple buses, we would take the bus all the time to the various parts of the city and for the most part we were fine but there were kids from other schools who would get jealous of Renaissance and Cass kids because we were considered smart kids, the nerds. So usually we would try to avoid interaction with kids we don’t know. I did had couple boy classmates who got beat up, but that didn’t happen that often. Yeah, we would go downtown, go to Greek town and to the library, I spent a lot of time in the library working on reports and doing stuff. And yeah, I didn’t feel unsafe. You always had to pay attention, you don’t trust just anybody.

TM: Do you think your neighborhood had changed over time? If you compare with back then and now, how you think your neighborhood has changed?

KD: Unfortunately, there are some changes, some of the people who lived there no longer live there, people don’t necessarily take care of their home as same. By the time I got to college there was this thing when they were breaking into garages and stealing tool sheds, we had tool sheds in our backyard. They were breaking in trying to still stuff to sell it. So, more car theft happened more frequently. Our home was broken into couple of times. And that was definitely during some of the economic challenges in the city, so I think it definitely correlated. So that definitely had changed some things around.
I think there should more activities for young people, when I moved to other cities especially Minneapolis, every neighborhood had its own community center, so that is something should be happening here in the city of Detroit.

TM: Do you think crime rate has changed over time? Like decreased or increased?

KD: In the neighborhood when I was getting ready to leave it increased a bit, I think its level off because there weren't enough activities. I really don’t watch local news a lot because it's depressing. I don’t watch a lot of bad news about people being killed.

TM: You mention you were getting ready to leave?

KD: So yes, by the time I turned 18 and went away to college, I have not lived in that neighborhood since then.

TM: How is your new neighborhood like? And where did you move to?

KD: I left and lived in Minneapolis, I went to college first in Mt Pleasant Michigan than moved to other places, came back home few years ago and lived downtown for couple years and currently now in Southfield in my parents house while I look for a house for purchase in Detroit.

TM: So, what would you like to see happen in your neighborhood?

KD: I would like to see a community center, if I had the resource to build something that would be one of the first thing to do mis make sure there is a community center

End of track

Search Terms

Detroit, Northwest, crime increase


“Kalisha Davis,” Detroit Historical Society Oral History Archive, accessed November 29, 2023, https://oralhistory.detroithistorical.org/items/show/766.

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