Larry Lewis was a Richmond police officer out on patrol one midnight in 2003 when he stopped over at the Richmond Police Activities League (RPAL) at 22nd Street and Macdonald Avenue. Randomly and fortunately, he ran into Micheal Davenport, the owner of DP Security, who happened to be working late.
Lewis informed Davenport that he was set to become the executive director of RPAL, the nonprofit providing a wide variety of constructive activities for local youth. RPAL was about to get a new gym and needed a new scoreboard, Lewis said. Davenport asked, how much you need?
“Right there on the spot. 12 midnight. 22nd and Macdonald,” Lewis said. “And [Davenport] said, ‘You got it, $3,000.'”
Lewis asked Davenport to be on RPAL’s board of directors. Until this week, Davenport remained on the board and had “not given less than $10,000 a year” to supporting youth programs, Lewis said.
A longtime community advocate and business owner who employed over 180 people over two decades — the large majority of whom were Richmond residents and some with past convictions — Davenport, aka “Mr. Richmond,” died Wednesday following an illness. A community touched by his long record of service is in mourning.
Davenport’s death came three years after his retirement and less than a month after the City of Richmond issued a heartfelt proclamation recognizing his longtime dedication to the community.
For Davenport, there was never a wrong time to help out. Among the community members who can attest to that is Contra Costa County Supervisor John Gioia, who joined Lewis, Richmond City Councilmembers, and representatives of Congressmembers Mark DeSaulnier and Barbara Lee and Assemblymember Buffy Wicks in recognizing Davenport during the Nov. 26 proclamation at Richmond City Council.
In 2009, while prepping for the celebration to name the County Courthouse in Richmond after the late Judge George Carroll, who was the county’s first African Americas judge, Gioia got a call from Davenport. Davenport was concerned over how the judge, in his 80s and frail, would get to the celebration from his home in Point Richmond. “I’m going to get a limousine out to his house,” he told Gioia.
Davenport wanted no credit for providing the stylish transportation. He “didn’t want people to know about it,” Gioia said.
“That one event says a lot about Micheal,” the supervisor said.
Davenport is a longtime Richmond resident who spent 37 years in the security field and served on several committees and boards including the Richmond Main Street Initiative, Richmond Chamber of Commerce as president, the Richmond Anti-Drug Force and Black Advocates for Progress and Change, according to Councilmembers Nat Bates and Vice Mayor Ben Choi, who introduced the Nov. 26 proclamation.
Along with RPAL, he’s worked with Richmond Kiwanis, was named a “Guardian Angel” for supporting Police Officers Association events, and supported such organizations as Richmond Little League, Richmond Black Firefighters Youth Academy, and the Salesian Boys & Girls Club. He even dressed up as Santa Claus for the kindergarten class at Verde Elementary.
Davenport’s contributions came via connections with people in his community. In a Standard profile before his retirement in 2016, Davenport, still living in the Richmond home his father purchased in 1959, said he took even more pride in the individuals he’d helped than in the success of DP Security, a well-known, family-run local business with high-profile clients.
He recalled a strong connection with one particular employee who fell off the wagon twice, and after giving him another chance, would become a prominent member of a local church.
When Davenport learned a Verde teacher was digging into her own pockets for school supplies, he adopted her class and purchased all her students a bicycle for Christmas. When dropping off a bike at one student’s home, he was deeply affected and hooked up with RPAL to provide the family with toys and a full turkey meal for Thanksgiving.
Such stories about Davenport go on and on.
“You can really call him for just about anything, and he comes through,” said Richmond Councilmember Demnlus Johnson III.
Added Councilmember Jael Myrick, “We’ve worked together on a lot of things, disagree on a lot of things,” but Davenport was someone who could “see past the political and to the human.”
“The legacy is amazing,” Myrick said.
Antwon Cloird, founder of Men and Women of Purpose, said he was raised without a father and that Davenport was a strong example of a father figure in the community.
“In order to be a man, you had a see one,” he said. “I watched Davenport Security give a real second chance at a first-class life [for local residents].”
Davenport attended local schools, held jobs delivering newspapers and learned to be an auto mechanic, starting at age 9 in his first garage. He would later work for Ford Motor Company in Richmond, starting off by unloading train cars and moving on to becoming an electric forklift mechanic. Meanwhile, he studied to become a Farmers’ Insurance agent.
In the 1970s, he helped open and run a pair of nightclubs in Oakland while starting his work in the security field. After taking a 10-year hiatus from security to become a cross-country trucker, Davenport returned to security in 1996, launching DP Security with his brother Wilburt Davenport, Wilburt’s wife Glenda, and friend Marvin Sheppard.
Davenport also participated as a delegate at the Democratic National Convention in both 2008 and 2012.
At the recent city proclamation ceremony, a wheelchair-bound Davenport remained humble.
“You do things just because you do them, you don’t go looking for anything,” he said. “This is my community. You got to give back. You have to give back and help each other.”
Correction: The story has been updated to correct the spelling of Mr. Davenport’s first name, which is Micheal.