Davisville, July 23, 2018: Rosa Washington Olson is one of the important voices of Davis

Rosa Washington Olson grew up in the South and has lived in Davis for nearly half a century. She taught school for decades, earned advanced academic degrees, and as a public speaker she can engage people with warmth, understanding, and purpose—and challenge them with blunt facts. She grew up in a strong family amid “a time of overt racism,” she says, “but we had parents who shielded us from that hostility, and they always said to us ‘you are somebody. You will be somebody.’ ”

She has endured racism countless times, including in Davis. “Everything in the South was overt. You knew. All of the other places away from the South, hid behind the South, with their subtle, latent racism. People who went north thought they were going somewhere and realized they ran into the same kind, but in a different way.”

She also says she loves life and enjoys people, and wants to encourage, motivate and build bridges with other people. She likes Davis. The community of church is important to her (she started going to the Davis United Methodist Church in 1972). And she remains hopeful. “We are not to forget society,” she says. “It’s not an I and it’s not a me, it’s us together.”