Photo depicting a close-up of a Black woman and man in love sitting on couch, holding hands.

OPINION: Being Together So Long

by Gregory Davis and Shawn Richard-Davis

In celebration of love in our community, the Emerald reached out to community leaders and activists Gregory Davis and his wife Shawn Richard-Davis for inspiration on what brought them together and what has sustained their relationship of nearly 40 years. Gregory sent us this reply.


When I came to Seattle University from Compton, CA, in the fall of 1978 to start my freshman year, it was raining. Shawn met me before I met her. I was taking photos at the Seattle U men’s basketball game when she spotted me. She says my smile captivated her. I did not know. We actually met later, in the winter of 1980, while just hanging out on campus. I was captivated by her sweet presence and smartness. Turns out she was Summa Cum Laude in the class of ʼ83; I was “thankyalawdy,” class of ʼ82. We married in 1984.

Photo depicting Shawn Richard-Davis and husband Gregory Davis seated together smiling at the camera while holding their wedding portrait.
Gregory Davis (right) and Shawn Richard-Davis (left) holding their wedding portrait. Photo courtesy of the Davises.

There are some very specific things that have sustained our relationship, including treasuring significant moments together and creating things in common to treasure. An example is our first date in 1980. I had discount passes to a fitness center. Even though Shawn’s pressed hair did not stay all the way pressed, she felt good because I still gave her a kiss. 

Then there was the 1982 Valentine’s Day Scolding of Gregory, in 1982, by Shawn’s mom (Frances Simmons) and aunt (Hellyne Summerrise). I failed to get a gift and was told “three strikes and you are out.” I did not know how many strikes I had, but there were no more.

Having our first child in 1986 (Kaila Davis Nsimbi) was so moving, we were there together. Having our second child in 1992 (Jerrell Davis), we were there together. We were baptized together in 1991 at Medgar Evers pool. We received awards together: Vision From The Mountaintop Community Award, 2022 — Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Prayer Breakfast; Black Marriage Couple of the Year, 2019 — Fall Ball; Extraordinary Family Award, 2014 — Urban Impact.

We traveled together to college graduations of family relatives or mentees: Agnes Scott University (Atlanta, GA), Northwest University (Boston, MA), Clark Atlanta (Atlanta, GA), San Francisco State (San Francisco, CA), Dominguez Hills College (Carson, California). 

We believe in Christ and have a common love of God together. We run our relationship in spirituality. It also helps being in community with other Christian couples.

There is still an attraction via friendship and a deep appreciation for each other and each other’s superpower. We intentionally make efforts to bring out the best of each other’s superpower. When the hardness comes, forgiveness, prayer and understanding comes also. Experiencing these, individually, in their own right are significant, them being done together has had a multiplier effect on us, on our “being together so long.”


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The opinions, beliefs, and viewpoints expressed by the contributors on this website do not necessarily reflect the opinions, beliefs, and viewpoints of the Emerald or official policies of the Emerald.


Gregory Davis is the founding member of Rainier Beach Action Coalition (RBAC). He has served as a volunteer and board chair with the Rainier Beach Community Empowerment Coalition, which became RBAC in 2015, since 2003.  Some people have dubbed Mr. Davis “the mayor of Rainier Beach” while he humbly presents himself in serving the position, he understands that there have been many people before him that have done work for the neighborhood who deserve the moniker more. His aspiration is to be the best person he can be as he strives to live through Proverb 22:1 “A good name is preferred over riches and gold”. This is a piece of wisdom he also shares with the younger generations.

Shawn Richard-Davis is a lifelong resident of Seattle, Washington. She has a degree in criminal justice/police science from Seattle University. Shawn retired from Seattle Municipal Court Probation in September 2020 after 28 years of service with the City of Seattle. She also served 15 years as a domestic violence victim advocate in the City Attorney’s Office. Shawn is married to Gregory Davis, and they are the proud parents of Kaila Davis Nsimbi and Jerrell Davis. Shawn attended the 50th anniversary of The March on Washington in 2013. This trip inspired her to start her blog, www.dreamin4freedom.com, as a way to share her experiences with her family.

📸 Featured Image: Photo by fizkes/Shutterstock.com

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