By Patrick Forrest
Longtime host of The Butt Naked Truth on local gospel station WBGX, Harold Davis Jr. died Sunday, April 12 after complications involving acute respiratory distress syndrome associated with COVID-19. He was 63 years old.
Notorious for exposing political leaders regardless of ethnicity or party whose words did not match their votes or actions, Davis’ presence was a needed one for those who sought out the truth behind those that held the power in their communities.
“Harold was a needed voice for the community,” Davis’ longtime friend Gregory Sain said. “He was never afraid. We have these politicians coming around saying ‘Power to the People’ or downplaying somebody like Rahm [Emmanuel], but then vote with him for everything, giving him everything he wanted. Harold wouldn’t stand for that.”
His family released a statement to the show’s Facebook page informing fans of his death and asking for space during this difficult time.
“To the loyal followers of Truth Radio: The Butt Naked Truth, it is with great sadness to inform you of the untimely passing of the Founder and Host, Mr. Harold Davis, Jr. The family of Mr. Davis is taking the necessary time to grieve privately. It is requested that you, his followers and friends, please grant his family the due space, time and respect as they grip the tremendous loss of their beloved husband, father, son, son-in-law, brother-in-law, uncle, nephew and dear friend.”
Davis had long claimed that “The Butt Naked Truth” show was filling a void in the once powerful world of Black talk radio breaking the stream of gospel music for what he called his blunt show with a blunt name.
“We try to make sure when we say something its true, we try to make sure whatever way it comes out, you know it may come out hard sometimes, it may come out a little different, but we call it that because that’s what it is,” Davis said in 2014. “It’s the butt naked truth.”
“We deal with community-based issues,” Davis said. “We deal with mostly from a solutions standpoint. We try to attack the issues head-on, and we’re trying to deal with the actual—what’s it going to take to solve [the issue].”
Outside of hosting a radio show, Davis spent much of the past two decades working with at-risk teenagers throughout the city in an attempt to decrease the violence numbers that caught national attention.
Much of his work was done alongside Chicago Public Schools Chief of Safety and Security, Jadine Chou, who called his death a huge loss for the young people of Chicago.
“Having grown up in Altgeld Gardens, he knew what it felt like to have people look at you a certain way, have a perception of you, and he wanted to make sure that all of our young people knew that they had just the brightest future, and they were smart, and they were important,” Chou said in an interview with WBEZ.
Chou has long worked to integrate the programs championed by Davis but recognized the toll this will be on the many students that he touched.
“He had a way of reaching the students, it wasn’t something out of textbook. This was a human connection,” Chou said. “Because we’re out of school right now it has been tough to inform all of the kids about what has happened. Many may still not know.”
An outpouring of support came from numerous officials who took time to thank Davis for his lifetime of work and called for continued work toward his goals.
Unfortunately, because we’re in this pandemic, we have to mourn in those ways through the social media platforms that are available,” Ald. Pat Dowell, 3rd Ward said of Davis commending his work doing safe passage and safe haven at schools in her ward on the near South Side. “I’m sure that people will come together when we’re able to come together as a community and celebrate his life.”
Dorothy R. Leavell, Editor and Publisher of the Crusader newspaper, expressed her condolences to the family of Davis, stating that he was a staunch supporter of the Crusader and will be sorely missed by the Chicago community at large. “He was known as an activist that was on the side of right and was known to address issues on his radio show, but also in public arenas and governmental settings where his voice rang clear,” Leavell concluded.
The family has thanked fans and well-wishers for their kind thoughts and promised to share information regarding the future of his program in the coming days.
“Please know that your outpouring of love and support is indeed acknowledged and appreciated. As things stabilize, we will announce a public memorial service in his honor,” the family’s statement reads. “Additionally, we will share more information regarding the show within the next 30 days.”