The World According to Fannie Davis: My Mother's Life in the Detroit Numbers

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Produced by: 
KBOO
Program:: 
Air date: 
Thu, 03/07/2019 - 11:30am to 12:00pm
Author Bridgett M. Davis discusses her mother, Fannie, ran a successful "Numbers" operation in 1960s-70s Detroit.

 

In 1958, the very same year that an unknown songwriter named Berry Gordy borrowed $800 to found Motown Records, a pretty young mother from Nashville, Tennessee borrowed $100 from her brother to run a "Numbers" racket out of her tattered apartment on Delaware Street, in one of Detroit’s worst sections. That woman was Fannie Davis, Bridgett M. Davis’ mother. Part bookie, part banker, mother, wife, granddaughter of slaves, Fannie became more than a numbers runner: she was a kind of Ulysses, guiding both her husbands, five children and a grandson through the decimation of a once-proud city using her wit, style, guts, and even gun. She ran her numbers business for 34 years, doing what it took to survive in a legitimate business that just happened to be illegal. She created a loving, joyful home, sent her children to the best schools, bought them the best clothes, mothered them to the highest standard, and when the tragedy of urban life struck, soldiered on with her stated belief: “Dying is easy. Living takes guts.”

A daughter’s moving homage to an extraordinary parent, The World According to Fannie Davis is also the suspenseful, unforgettable story about the lengths to which a mother will go to “make a way out of no way” to provide a prosperous life for her family — and how those sacrifices resonate over time. This original, timely, and deeply relatable portrait of one American family is essential reading.

A celebration of Detroit in its heyday, an inside look at how the "Numbers" powered African-American communities, and a daughter’s homage to a beloved parent, The World According to Fannie Davis is a moving, suspenseful story about the lengths to which a mother will go to provide for her family — and the way those sacrifices resonate over time. 

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