Meet High Ground's talented and diverse team of writers and photographers in our new series, "Who is High Ground?" We're kick it off with our lead On the Ground contributor, Ashley Davis.
Davis was born in Oklahoma City but doesn't claim it. Her family moved to Memphis before her first birthday. Since then she's lived in South Memphis, Parkway Village, Hickory Hill, and the Riverdale/Hacks Cross area. She's a graduate of White Station High School.
Her experience is an advantage as a High Ground News reporter.
Our flagship series, On the Ground, is neighborhood-based with 13 focus communities including South Memphis and Hickory Hill. Davis has been a High Ground freelance reporter since November 2019 and is now lead On the Ground contributor in our current focus neighborhood, North Memphis.
"I am excited to highlight and celebrate the great things in North Memphis," said Davis. "I also hope to bring to light some of the challenges so that the entire city can move towards change. That's the beauty of journalism—it can get people talking and moving."
Davis pinned her first story in kindergarten.
After high school, she attended the University of Pennsylvania and earned a dual degree in communications and English before moving on to Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism where she earned a Master of Science in digital media.
While in New York, she worked for Black Enterprise, Good Housekeeping, Seventeen and O, The Oprah Magazine. She returned to Memphis in 2010 to join Teach For America and taught kindergarten at Memphis College Prep.
"I've been in education ever since," said Davis. "For more than ten years, I've worked as an elementary teacher, principal, instructional coach, and now as a consultant."
Ashley Davis is a freelance writer, author, educator, and educational consultant. She's taught, consulted, and served as a principal in several North Memphis schools. She's now covering North Memphis as High Ground's lead On the Ground contributor. (Submitted)
Meet High Ground's Ashley Davis
Let's start with the most important question. What's your favorite BBQ in Memphis?
I love A & R Barbecue and Cozy Corner. I'll order the ribs or a pork sandwich with slaw. After a feast like that though, I'm usually going to take a nap.
Got a great memory, recent or distance, of North Memphis?
My daddy's church is right there on Chelsea Avenue so I have great memories of Sunday mornings in North Memphis. The school where I was a teacher and principal was in Uptown. I'd run to Ms. Girlee's or The Office @ Uptown for lunch. I've worked and partnered with schools all over the neighborhood—Douglas High School, Promise Academy Hollywood, and Memphis Scholars Caldwell Guthrie.
My best memories are always the people—my students, my dad's congregation, the business owners who fed me. That's what makes a neighborhood—the people.
Describe your perfect day in The Bluff City.
Hmmmm ... I probably would start out with a walk. I love Memphis parks! I would walk down by the river or head over to David Carnes or Audubon Park. I love
breakfast and brunch so I'm going to grab some grub at either Brother Juniper's or the Waffle Iron. Although, I have a whole list of brunch spots that I love.
If this day was really perfect, I'd head over to Benjamin Hooks Library and check out books in the children's section then go thrifting at the Repeat Boutique or Blues City Thrift. If the weather was nice, I'd go to a free concerts at the Levitt Shell or Crosstown. At the end of the day, I'd love to be around my family playing basketball, eating, and laughing in Whitehaven.
Ashley Davis (seated) and her sister April Foxx founded Kifani Press | Kifani Works in 2019. The company publishes books featuring authors and characters of color and partners with schools and nonprofits to provide culturally relevant and responsive curriculum, resources, and professional development. (Submitted)
Got a favorite Memphis hidden gem that doesn't get the love it should?
I think a lot of our public spaces don't get the love they should. Our public parks, libraries, and community centers are gems in the neighborhood. Just look at Lester Community Center in Binghampton and the great athletes that have played there. There are so many classes, resources, and activities right there in the community.
What's the biggest risk you've ever taken in your career?
In 2019, I took a leap of faith and decided to work for myself full time. Entrepreneurship is scary, but it was the best decision I ever made. I absolutely love it. Now, I can really pursue my passion as a writer and educational consultant through this joint venture with my sister, Kifani Press | Kifani Works
. We help to fight educational inequity through literacy. We publish books featuring authors and characters of color and partner with schools and nonprofits to provide culturally relevant and responsive curriculum, resources, and professional development.
I also freelance for publications like High Ground. It's brought me back to my first love—writing.