Episode 014: Wayne Davis – Director Hoover and FBI Diversity


(The audio for this episode has been updated as Episode 207. It was previously posted on April 23, 2016 as Episode 14. For a link to updated FBI diversity statistics, see Episode 207 show notes.)

Retired Special Agent in Charge (SAC) Wayne Davis served 25 years with the FBI and during his career ran the Indianapolis, Detroit, and Philadelphia Offices. SAC Davis was among the first group of fully qualified African-American agents hired by the FBI and allowed to attend the FBI Academy in 1962 and 1963. In this episode of FBI Retired Case File Review, he provides a fascinating personal and historical account of diversity in the FBI and his private meeting with Director J. Edgar Hoover in 1965, at which time the Director openly expressed his views about Martin Luther King and the Civil Rights Movement.

Wayne passed away on July 10, 2020.  Early in my career, he and his wife Lois (a former Assistant United States Attorney) mentored me, and I will forever remember their kindness and wisdom. Wayne personally asked me to be applicant coordinator when I had less than 5 years in the Bureau. He was serious about minority recruitment and thought I would do a good job for him. He did not want to fail that task, and I did not let him down! Lois called me a few days before he passed and let me tell him, once again, how much they both mean to me. Special Agent Wayne Davis was an even more special husband, father, grandfather, boss, and friend. May he rest in peace.

Wayne G. Davis – A Celebration of life.

Special Agent in Charge (Retired)

Wayne G. Davis

8/26/63 – 11/3/88

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Prior to 1962,  the FBI had no “fully qualified” African-American Special Agents and Director Hoover was under pressure by Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy and the Department of Justice to diversify the professional federal law enforcement ranks of the FBI. Several African American support employees had been given the title of Special Agent even though they did not meet the college requirements, were not allowed to attend the FBI Academy, or to perform many of the duties described in the special agent job description. The first two fully qualified and college educated African American candidates to attend the FBI Academy, Aubrey Lewis and James Barrow, entered on duty together in the summer of 1962.  A year later in the summer of 1963, Wayne Davis and another African American candidate, John Cary, attended the FBI Academy and joined the Bureau.

When Director Hoover died in 1972, he was succeeded by Acting Director L. Patrick Gray who immediately ordered the hiring of women as special agents and re-emphasized minority recruitment. Wayne Davis was appointed as one of the executive managers in the Administrative Division at FBI Headquarters to head up those efforts. During this interview he explains the importance of the FBI maintaining a diverse workforce.

According to FBI Headquarters, as of April 2016 13,401 Special Agents are employed by the Bureau.  Here’s a breakdown of diversity in Special Agent position in today’s FBI:

Total Men – 10,731 or 80.08%

Total Women – 2,670 or 19.92%

Total Minorities – 2,226 or 16.61%  (Includes all Hispanic/Latino, Black/African-American, Asian, Am. Indian/Alaska Native, Hawaiian/Pac. Islander, and Multi-Racial men and women)

FYI, if I were in the FBI today I would be one of 134 black women making up 1% of the Special Agent ranks. I encourage all listeners interested in joining the FBI to apply, especially women and minorities.   —   Jerri

Wayne New Agent Class
1963 New Agent Class photo – future Special Agent in Charge Wayne Davis is in the top row right. Also pictured in the top row left hand side is John Cary. They were the third and fourth African American college-educated candidates appointed as special agents candidates to attend the academy under Director Hoover.












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Ebony Magazine article about the first fully qualified African-American special agents allowed to attend the FBI Academy. Click here to read the article on page 29.













Director Hoover summoned Wayne Davis to FBI Headquarters for a meet and greet.  His “audience” with  Hoover was memorable not only because of its historical significance, but also because of the pre-meeting conversation Wayne Davis had with Hoover’s “gatekeeper” Sam Noisette beforehand.

Wayne in Detroit
Wayne photographed with other first office agents and a squad stenographer in Detroit circa 1964. On Wayne’s right are Bud Stromberg, Jack VanWagenen and Blake Yoakley.














Incentive award
Wayne receiving a cash incentive award from Detroit ASAC Jack Callahan for assisting in solving several bank robberies. Circa 1964. (Note the photo of Director Hoover in the background)















Hijacking sting
Wayne after the successful completion of hijacking sting, Newark Division circa 1966.













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Wayne Davis: FBI Special Agent in Charge New York-born G-man runs Bureau busy Michigan Division – Dec. 1982 article in Ebony Magazine. Click here to read article on page 72.














Meeting with Director Webster
SAC Wayne Davis during a meeting with FBI Director William Webster.









Wayne Davis and me at a media event in 2008.














Jerri Williams

View posts by Jerri Williams
Jerri Williams, a retired FBI agent, author and podcaster, jokes that she writes about the FBI to relive her glory days. After 26 years with the Bureau specializing in major economic fraud and corruption investigations, she calls on her professional encounters with scams and schemers to write police procedurals inspired by true crime FBI cases in her Philadelphia FBI Corruption Squad crime fiction series featuring flawed female FBI agent Kari Wheeler. Jerri’s FBI for Armchair Detectives nonfiction series enables readers to discover who the FBI is and what the FBI does by debunking misconceptions about the FBI in books, TV, and movies. Her books are available as ebooks, paperbacks, and audiobooks wherever books are sold. She’s also the host of FBI Retired Case File Review, a true crime podcast with more than 300 episodes available on all popular podcast apps and YouTube.


  1. Tony Richardson,June 16, 2018

    Jerri, will you be covering the African American Special Agent Centennial Celebration in Feb 2019 in WDC? I’m on the committee and can furnish additional info.
    Tony Richardson

    1. Jerri WilliamsJune 16, 2018

      I received the invitation. It sounds like a wonderful event! Lookout for an email from me.

  2. Jeffrey L. CovingtonApril 23, 2016

    Great interview, Jerria! I learned quite a bit about Wayne Davis and the early days of the bureau regarding the hiring of minority agents that I really didn’t know! These podcasts of yours kind of “fill in the blanks” of history for me about the bureau and what has gone on that is not in the history books. Mr. Davis is a treasure trove of knowledge about the bureau that had not be revealed to date! His enthusiasm and energy during this podcast had me rapt throughout the hour of your interview! Great work my collegiate and friend! Can’t wait for Ronald Nolan’s podcast!

    1. Jerri WilliamsApril 23, 2016

      Thank you! As I said in the intro, I was honored to have had the opportunity to interview SAC Davis.


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