Sammy Davis Jr. and his obstacles in the racist world

Being a successful black man in a white world seems like the greatest of all obstacles one can face in life.

Sammy Davis Jr. was a dancer, an actor, and a versatile singer who stood out amongst others in a much different America than that of present-day America. Sammy was a black man in a white world and he was faced with numerous obstacles throughout his life because he had a black pigment.

Bert Verhoeff / Anefo

Despite all that he went through, he remains one of the greatest of all time. He was a great entertainer and even after his demise he got a posthumous Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in 2001.

Davis was born by vaudeville performer Sammy Davis Sr. and vaudeville dancer Elevra Sanchez in Harlem, New York, 1925. The duo parted ways when Davis was just three years old. His both parents were dancers and that was their source of livelihood, it didn’t take long before Davis followed in their footsteps.

Collections of the Black Film Center/Archive

Davis stayed with his dad after the divorce and the both of them spent a great time together touring the world. Davis debuted by the name ‘’Baby Sammy’’ after he made the public fall in love with him. He soon entered the world of entertainment and became part of the popular Will Mastin Trio consisting of him, his dad, and Uncle, Will Mastin.

Davis wasn’t allowed to face the hateful speech thrown at his father and his Uncle Will Smith, he was underage and they always protected him from those hateful comments.


When the war started Davis had to join the Army’s Special Services Branch, which was in charge of providing entertainment for the troops. It was a moment of horror for our Baby Sammy. The soldiers always had something to say about his skin color and always picked on him any moment they get.

During those trying and hurtful moments, he got to know Sergeant Williams who was by his side and made him understood the power of his vocal and how to use it against those who disrespected him for who he was.

When the war was over, Davis returned to the Will Mastin Trio again and went on with his entertainment business.

Wikipedia Commons

After Davis’ breakthrough, all his life came with controversies as he fell in love with a white girl and got married to her, but the white community didn’t want to hear of it, saying he doesn’t deserve a white girl.

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