Born in Georgia in 1928, Rudy Davenport grew up in Chicago, graduated from Roosevelt University, and moved to Springfield in 1966. He worked for the State of Illinois and was an active volunteer with the NAACP.
Davenport was one of the plaintiffs in the voting rights case that changed the structure of Springfield city government. He later became a volunteer for Habitat for Humanity and served as local president. Davenport was named Springfield’s First Citizen in 2001.
In an interview for the Springfield African-American History Foundation series, Davenport discussed the inequalities present in the American educational system and NAACP efforts to alleviate the problem locally.