Davis, Sampson 1973–
Davis, Sampson 1973–
Born January 19, 1973, in Newark, NJ. Education: Seton Hall University, B.S. (with honors); University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey, M.D., 1999. Hobbies and other interests: Working for the Violence Prevention Institute of New Jersey.
Office—The Three Doctors, LLC, 65 Hazelwood Ave., Newark, NJ 07106. E-mail—[email protected]
Newark Beth Israel Medical Center, Newark, NJ, residency; currently an emergency physician at St. Michael's Medical Center, Newark, and Eaton Hospital, NJ; assistant medical director of emergency department, Raritan Bay Medical Center, Old Bridge, NJ. Cofounder, Three Doctors Foundation; vice president, Physician Recruitment for Physician Practice Enhancement.
Essence Award (with Rameck Hunt and George Jenkins), 2000.
(With George Jenkins, Rameck Hunt, and Margaret Bernstein) The Bond: Three Young Men Learn to Forgive and Reconnect with Their Fathers, Riverhead Books (New York, NY), 2007.
Now an emergency care physician, Sampson Davis began his life as an African American boy growing up in an impoverished inner-city neighborhood. The school he attended, while better than many near his Newark, New Jersey, home, was not as good as those in the more affluent white neighborhoods. He was lucky to have a father who was at home for the first twelve years of his life, but his father was emotionally distant, and Davis had to try to learn about girls and being a man from his friends on the street. Fortunately, he had two friends, George Jenkins and Rameck Hunt, for support. The three boys vowed not to let themselves be dragged into gangs and drugs but instead to get a good education and work in the medical field. Together, they have written about their roads to success in the books The Pact: Three Young Men Make a Promise and Fulfill a Dream, We Beat the Street: How a Friendship Pact Helped Us Succeed, and The Bond: Three Young Men Learn to Forgive and Reconnect with Their Fathers. The Pact has been filmed as a documentary, and the friends have created the Three Doctors Foundation to support and inspire children who come from similar backgrounds with scholarship funds. To appeal to kids, they also created the "Pact Power Kids" cartoon characters who serve as role models for young children.
Davis was born in Newark after his parents moved there from South Carolina. He was raised in a small house in a less-than-ideal neighborhood because that is what they could afford. The neighborhood steadily declined, and by the time Davis was in junior high school in the 1980s, the area was crime ridden and his father had left the family. Davis tried to survive by becoming street savvy, and this got him into occasional trouble with the police. Nevertheless, with support from his mother and his school, he was able to attend a good magnet school, University High School. Here he met George Jenkins, a bright kid who, by the age of eleven, already knew he wanted to become a dentist. The two became friends and later met Rameck Hunt, the son of drug-addicted parents. But Hunt was smart, and with the support of the also-bright Jenkins and Davis, the three made a pact to emerge from the ghetto as successful doctors. They all worked hard in school, taking summer courses so that they could get up to speed with college expectations, and they received considerable help from a program recruiter named Carla Dickson, who initially recognized Jenkins's talent and then the potential of his two friends. They applied for financial aid, took on jobs to fill in the gaps not covered by financial assistance, and attended the same colleges, often sharing living quarters. By supporting each other, they all managed to graduate in 1999 from the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey.
"Although The Pact is an inspiring story not limited by age or race, it especially serves as real-life motivation for young men of color. Today, all three have fulfilled their dream of becoming doctors," commented Mondella S. Jones in the Black Issues Book Review. In the book, each of the friends tells his own story from his own perspective, creating "a compelling story that will inspire other young people to form and value supportive, long-term friendships," according to Vanessa Bush in Booklist. "The Pact is a triumphant story," concluded a writer for the Web site Jandy's Reading Room. "It's an inspirational story that is written well and worth reading."
While The Pact was targeted toward general readers, Davis, Jenkins, and Hunt recognized that they needed to appeal to younger audiences who would be most affected and influenced by their story. They therefore wrote We Beat the Street for kids in grades seven and up. Again using their own voices to tell the story, this shorter version will still appeal to older readers as well, according to Gillian Engberg in Booklist, who felt that "all readers will be riveted by the profoundly inspirational stories and personal, intimate voices" in We Beat the Street. "The writing here… is simple and accessible and there is plenty of action for reluctant readers," reported Francisca Goldsmith in School Library Journal. A Publishers Weekly writer concluded: "Readers searching for role models should find much to cheer and emulate here."
It is unfortunately very common in poor urban areas for children to grow up with only one parent to support them. In African American families, it is often the father who is absent. Davis's father left the family when he was twelve; Jenkins and Hunt did not enjoy a father in the household for even that short a time. In The Bond all three doctors talk about how this had a profound effect on them. Interestingly, the authors tracked down their fathers and got them to contribute to the book as well, offering their own voices to the crisis of fatherless households. A Publishers Weekly contributor commented that the fathers, "refreshingly, do not make excuses for their shortcomings but give insights into their failures." For example, all three fathers also grew up without their fathers to support them, thus illustrating how a cycle can be created and perpetuated from generation to generation.
In an interview for Talk of the Nation, Davis remarked that his idea of what a father should be like came more from television programs such as The Cosby Show and Leave It to Beaver than from his own father. To learn about girls, he talked to the boys on the street who were older and, presumably, more experienced. Sometimes he would run into a man who offered good advice, "but I also ran into a lot of negative men who taught me how to do bad things. And as I move forward in life, I had to deprogram myself, if you will, in a way, to remove some of those qualities: the way that I saw women, the way that I carried myself in conversations, or the way I handled myself in school. I had to remove all sort of negative qualities and kind of instill positive qualities within myself." Davis remarked that his friendship with Jenkins and Hunt "helped us become the men we are today." Davis also credited his mother for helping him: "Our mothers—they sacrificed their lives to make us the men that we are today. But realizing that there's certain things that a son and a daughter has to be taught by a man. I mean, it's just essentially what it is, and if we take away that man from the house, then we were insufficient in so many ways."
The Bond also includes more positive stories about children and their fathers to balance the book. As Davis said in his Talk of the Nation interview: "We didn't just have our stories or our fathers' memoirs. We also kind of broke some of the myths that, you know, young black men don't take care of their kids. And we have stories in there of a lot of friends of ours who actually break that myth…. I mean, there's so much in this book…. It really makes me feel so good to put this product out."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Davis, Sampson, with George Jenkins, Rameck Hunt, and Lisa Frazier Page, The Pact: Three Young Men Make a Promise and Fulfill a Dream, Riverhead Books (New York, NY), 2002.
Davis, Sampson, with George Jenkins, Rameck Hunt, and Sharon M. Draper, We Beat the Street: How a Friendship Pact Helped Us Succeed, Dutton Children's Books (New York, NY), 2005.
Davis, Sampson, with George Jenkins, Rameck Hunt, and Margaret Bernstein, The Bond: Three Young Men Learn to Forgive and Reconnect with Their Fathers, Riverhead Books (New York, NY), 2007.
American Medical News, September 23, 2002, "3 Doctors Vowed as Teens to Stay in School, Out of Trouble," p. 9.
Black Enterprise, June, 2003, "Word Is Bond: Davis, Jenkins, and Hunt Made a Pact to Survive the 'Hood and Become Doctors," p. 9.
Black Issues Book Review, July 1, 2002, Mondella S. Jones, review of The Pact, p. 50.
Booklist, May 1, 2002, Vanessa Bush, review of The Pact, p. 1488; April 1, 2005, Gillian Engberg, review of We Beat the Street, p. 1352; September 15, 2007, Vanessa Bush, review of The Bond, p. 6.
Library Journal, December, 2002, Mark Pumphrey, review of The Pact, p. 198; February 15, 2003, review of The Pact, p. 47.
New Crisis, July 1, 2002, review of The Pact, p. 61.
News & Notes, October 22, 2007, "Three Doctors Form Lasting ‘Bond.’"
Publishers Weekly, April 22, 2002, review of The Pact, p. 63; October 7, 2002, review of The Pact, p. 37; August 27, 2007, review of The Bond, p. 78.
Reader's Digest, March, 2002, "Boys to Men," p. 120.
School Library Journal, January, 2003, review of The Pact, p. 175; May, 2005, Francisca Goldsmith, review of We Beat the Street, p. 146.
SciTech Book News, September, 2002, review of The Pact, p. 72.
Talk of the Nation, October 8, 2007, "Doctors Find ‘the Bond’ through Medicine, Life."
Tribune Books (Chicago, IL), June 15, 2003, review of The Pact, p. 6.
Voice of Youth Advocates, October, 2002, review of The Pact, p. 302; June, 2005, Paula Brehm-Heeger, review of We Beat the Street, p. 157.
History Makers,http://www.thehistorymakers.com/ (June 16, 2003), author biography.
Jandy's Reading Room,http://www.jandysbooks.com/ (May 26, 2007), review of The Pact.
Network Journal,http://www.tnj.com/ (April 3, 2008), author profile.
Pact: The Movie,http://www.thepactthemovie.com (April 3, 2008).
Pact Power Kids,http://www.pactpowerkids.com (April 3, 2008).
Three Doctors Web site,http://www.threedoctors.com (April 3, 2008).
Pact Documentary (film), Spark Media, 2003.