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Our History

Image of Horace Davis
Image of Marian Davis

Marian Davis

Horace Davis

The Fund was founded in 1961 as the Marian Davis Scholarship Fund, a memorial to a teacher and political activist who died of breast cancer in 1960. Marian was an advocate for racial justice and the rights of labor. While raising her family, she was also at home in the classroom, on the picket line, or in a jail cell. 

Marian’s husband, Horace B. Davis, who was called Hockey by all who knew and loved him, organized the Fund as a tribute to her. Hockey was committed to creating a Fund to honor a talented teacher, loved by her students, who was persecuted for her work for peace and freedom.

Hockey, the descendant of Boston abolitionists and feminists, was a steelworker and labor journalist before becoming an academic, writing his doctoral thesis on the steel industry. He wrote extensively on labor history and socialist theory and taught at a number of universities before he refused to testify against his friends and colleagues during the McCarthy period. When he and Marian resisted the witch hunts, they began teaching at historically Black colleges in the South.

The Fund was Hockey’s great passion. The year after Marian’s death, Hockey gathered together his children and a number of old friends; George and Janet Faxon, Sara Gordon, Robert and Jane Hodes, Jessie Lloyd O’Connor, Leonard Radinsky, Dirk Struik, and Ann and Katherine Timpson. They formed a board, raised funds, and found applicants. For almost four decades, Hockey kept everyone connected and the Fund continued to thrive and grow.

Image from the March on Washington
Image of people walking during March on Washington
People at protest
Image of Norton Putter

Norton Putter

One of the people he attracted to the Fund was Norton S. Putter, who gave generously of his time and resources. Norton was born in Poland which his family left to escape poverty and the attacks of anti-Semites. Norton spent his life in the United States working for justice, particularly in the civil rights movement. He supported the Abraham Lincoln Brigade, worked in the 1948 Henry Wallace presidential campaign, and was a lifetime member of the NAACP. A fixture in progressive politics in Syracuse, New York, he worked for peace and justice and was central to the work of the Fund until his death in February of 2000.

In 1999, at the age of 100, Hockey died peacefully in his sleep. His life, along with the lives of Marian Davis and Norton Putter, is remembered through the Fund. Since that first meeting in 1961, the Fund has awarded well over 1,500 scholarships to students who represent the spirit and commitment Marian, Hockey and Norton brought to the movement for peace and justice.

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