Fort Worth attorney Bobbie Edmonds considers 98-year-old retired Judge L. Clifford Davis a walking history book. As a new attorney in the early 1980s, she admired him from afar while he served on the bench in Tarrant County. She was so inspired by his career and wide-reaching works within his community, that she committed herself to writing and publishing a children’s book celebrating his life as a positive example for youth to follow.
Edmonds’ book titled, I Want to be Like Him: The Life and Accomplishments of a Remarkable Man: Award-Winning Retired Senior Judge L. Clifford Davis, aims to connect with small children and teenagers about the legacy of a legal giant in their community. Edmonds said she hopes the book, which includes illustrations and photos collected from Davis’ family, will highlight the power of increasing juvenile literacy through reading and education.
The book was released on September 8 and is available for purchase on Amazon.com.
“Reading this book will enhance your perspective on moral issues, respect for self and others, and the importance of community service, family life, spirituality, education, and character building,” Edmonds told the Texas Bar Journal. “It would inspire the reader to excel and achieve the best. [Davis’] nuggets on personal responsibility and his wisdom and outlook on life needed to be shared with the current and future generations of youth!”
Licensed to practice law in Arkansas in 1949, Davis was admitted to the Texas Bar in 1954. After spending two years in Waco, he moved to Fort Worth and opened the first Black law firm in Tarrant County. Over the ensuing decades, Davis’ profound work centered around handling civil rights related cases, as well as general practice of civil, criminal, real estate, and probate law.
Along with 13 other African American attorneys, Davis helped established the Fort Worth Black Bar Association in 1977. Davis made history again in 1983, when he was elected the first African American judge in Tarrant County, defeating Pete Gilfeather, a white attorney. He served on the Tarrant County bench until 1988 and continued service as a visiting judge in 12 different counties throughout Texas until 2004. Following his tenure as a judge, he went into private practice.
Edmonds has written that even as Davis approaches centenarian status, he remains highly active in the community, as he continues his mentorship to judges and lawyers of all ethnicities and regularly commits to speaking engagements.
In 2012, the name of the bar association he helped establish was changed to the “The L. Clifford Davis Legal Association,” honoring his decades-long significant contribution to law in Tarrant County.
After reflecting on her own career and Davis’ impact that she saw firsthand, Edmonds said she began work on the book in May 2022. She completed the book in 13 months. One of Edmonds’ hobbies is photography, and the book includes several of her own photos taken of Davis in his natural environment as a father, attorney, judge, and mentor collected over the years, she said.
“Literacy is very important. As Judge Davis says, ‘Education is the key to a world of opportunities,’” Edmonds told the Texas Bar Journal. “Learn about the living legends in your community and give them accolades while they are living. Appreciate their worth and the paths they open for a better lifestyle. I want readers of all ages to cherish this youth book, use it in the classroom, mentor programs, attorney events, community and youth events, and for great family enjoyment and empowerment.”
PHOTO: Bobbie Edmonds poses with Judge L. Clifford Davis, commemorating the release of her book, I Want to be Like Him: The Life and Accomplishments of a Remarkable Man: Award-Winning Retired Senior Judge L. Clifford Davis. Courtesy of Bobbie Edmonds.