Dr. Oren Renick, esteemed professor in the School of Health Administration at Texas State University, recently authored a book titled Smoke over Mississippi, about a brave and little known pastor, William Penn Davis.
According to the synopsis of the book on Amazon, “Smoke over Mississippi is the fascinating story of a little-known, unsung hero. William Penn Davis was a Baptist preacher employed by the (historically white) Mississippi Baptist Convention as a liaison with black Baptists in the state. For years he worked energetically to build bridges of understanding and friendship between black and white Mississippi Baptists. Then, while driving home from a meeting at a black Baptist church, he was stopped by a group of racists, dragged from his car, and beaten. He refused to report the event to the police because to do so would have stirred up even more anger and hatred in the already-tense state. Instead he helped to create an organization, funded by white Baptists and others, to re-build black churches which had been burned by the Klan. Davis was an exemplar of moral vision and courage.”