At the age of 10, my mother and I were at the local washateria (laundromat) on Oak Grove Rd, when she called me over to look at an article in a community newspaper she was reading. She pointed to a name that was very similar to mine. Neither she nor I had ever seen any name that was remotely close to mine.
She came up with my name after looking through books of French and German names. She said that she took a few letters from here and there and threw a little bit of soul into it and she came up with my name.
The name she showed me in the paper that day was Devoyd Jennings.
I first met Devoyd in 2003 after I began working at the Fort Worth Business Press. My first encounter with him was not quite what I was expecting. I slowly made my way over to him and introduced myself. Hello Mr. Jennings, my name is Shevoyd; Shevoyd Hamilton.” I drew out the second mention of my name, annunciating so he could properly hear it and realize the strong similarity of our names. I had envisioned this as the perfect icebreaker. He simply shook my hand and said, “Good to meet cha,” and begin speaking to someone else. I thought, “That’s it?!”
I remember thinking to myself I couldn’t wait to tell my mom that I met “that guy” with the name similar to mine.
Over the next few years, I saw him from a distance or had quick conversations consisting of the exchange of hellos. By this time, I would say, “Hello Dee.” He would say, “Hello Savoy.”
As my role and responsibilities grew with the Business Press, so did our relationship. One day Dee called me and asked if I would meet with him. When we met, the first questions he asked me, “What do you do for the magazine? And you do know that Rich Connor (Publisher) and I go a long way back?
I thought this must be a set up by Rich and Dee. Instead, this was the day I began to know Devoyd Jennings. This was the day that I really met him. I began to understand that my impression of our first meeting was not who he was. He had been observing me and had really taken an interest in who I was and how he thought I could play a part in impacting the African American business community.
Devoyd’s dedication and life’s work to benefit the African American community should not be taken for granted. Devoyd spent many years of his life working to bring financial and health equity and balance to the African American community, working to ensure that equal access to business opportunities were available for all communities and members of the Fort Worth Metropolitan Black Chamber of Commerce. His impact is immeasurable.
When we first began the groundwork for The Metro Report, Devoyd was one of the first people I met with. He not only encouraged me but extended an open door any time I needed him. His experience in the community and in greater Fort Worth was invaluable. There were some days that he took hours out of his day to share and offer his insight on what made Fort Worth tick.
He was excited about me undertaking the publishing of The Metro Report. After every published issue, he would say, “I’m proud of you Savoy.” But I, like many others in this city and state are proud of him. He has left an indelible mark on Fort Worth and it’s African American community.
I will always remember that day at the washateria. As close as our names are, he stands alone, because there will never be another Devoyd Jennings.
On most days he still called me Savoy, but I didn’t mind. It’s just who he was.
Hey Mom, I want you to know that I met that guy…you know, the one with the name similar to mine. I’m sure glad that I did.