Investing in Community: Davis Barber and Beauty Service

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The late Willie Roscoe Davis said he never left the Ward 8 community because he didn’t believe in leaving. He said leaving one community only meant going to another one and running it down; instead people should invest in building up the community where they currently reside.

Mr. Willie Roscoe Davis opened his barbershop located at 4646 Livingston Rd. SE, on January 20, 1968, ironically the same day President Richard Nixon took office. Raised as a sharecropper, Mr. Davis never let his upbringing be a hindrance to his success.

Born in Rock Mount, North Carolina, Mr. Davis served active duty at Ft. Campbell in Kentucky and eventually settled here in Washington’s Southeast neighborhood with his wife, also named Willie. The two raised a family and Mr. Davis soon went on to serve as a Warrant Officer II in D.C.’s National Guard.

Mr. Davis began his barbering career at the Phelps Barbering School and worked at Duval’s Barbershop on Minnesota Avenue, working part-time, while holding down a full time position at the Soldiers Home in Northeast Washington. Once Mr. Davis saw the financial potential in barbering he quit the Soldiers Home and began as a full time barber and cosmetologist, soon after opening his shop on Livingston Road.

Mr. Davis’ two sons Derek and Marsten currently maintain the shop and always reflect on their father’s legacy. They say their father was a huge advocate of education and want people to remember his legacy of empowerment. “He believed if you empowered yourself, you could empower your community,” said Derek.

Marsten said his father’s work is a positive image for this community because his father was committed to helping people. “The military helped him become disciplined and discipline helps run a successful business,” Marsten said.
Today his two son’s not only maintain the shop, but both have followed in their father’s footsteps, becoming both instructors of barbering in the education profession and Derek currently sits on the board for the D.C. Board of Barbers and Cosmetology. Marsten teaches barbering at Ballou Senior High School.

Also noteworthy, neither son moved out of the area. They both continue their father’s mission of giving back to the community. “We both still live in the community where we grew up. We want to continue our father’s legacy of pouring back into this community,” said Derek. “The community has been good to us through tough times and we will remain faithful to it in rough times,” said Marsten.

Davis’ shop not only provided employment for residents in his community, but his shop was a place residents could seek advice, tutoring for the barber exam, blood pressure screenings and a safe haven for residents.

In 1995 Mr. Davis was appointed by the Mayor of Washington, DC to serve on the District Board of Barbers and Cosmetology. In that role he worked to restructure rules and regulations to help maintain the fairness and integrity of the profession and to open doors for others to become exam supervisors, instructors and owners of their own businesses. September 16, 2009, the 83rd National Association of Barber Boards of America in Las Vegas, Nevada inducted Mr. Davis into the Barber Hall of Fame. This accolade pays honor to practitioners who have made outstanding contributions to the furtherance of the barbering profession.

Mr. Davis was not only a barbershop owner, but he also ventured into child development, co-founding the Happy Tot Child Development Center with his wife in 1973 after enrolling in the Child Development Associate Preschoolers Training Program.

For more information on the shop and the two brothers who maintain it, please contact www.derekdavis24260@aol.com. You can also visit the shop at 4646 Livingston Road, S.E.

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