UNION, NJ – At the Township of Union Black History Celebration on Saturday, the first Eulace Peacock Unsung Hero Award was presented. The award was dedicated to the memory of Detective Sergeant Herbert (“Herbie”) Davis.
Sergeant Davis was chosen as the first Eulace Peacock Unsung Hero Award recipient based on his public service and contributions in the area of law enforcement that have inspired others and made a profound impact on the residents of the Township of Union. Davis is known for becoming the first African American detective at the Union Police Department who went on to become the first African American sergeant.
Davis, a native of the Bronx, NY, was brought up in Vauxhall. Orphaned at the age of 11, he was cared for by his sister. He went through the Union school system and graduated from Union High School in 1941. A year later, he was drafted into the army. He took basic training in Camp Stewart, GA, and was assigned to an all-Black anti-aircraft battalion, then spent two and a half years in New Guinea.
Discharged in 1946, Davis wanted to fulfill his childhood dream of becoming a policeman. However, there were no vacancies at the time. He worked various jobs including a position at the Vauxhall Post Office until he finally joined the police force in 1951 at a starting salary of $3,300 a year.
Davis remained a policeman until 1952 when he resigned to return to his position at the post office. In 1958, the police salary schedule had improved, Davis returned to the UPD where he worked his way up from radiocarman to sergeant. He was the recipient of the Harold C. Arnold Valor Award, was elected Vice President of PBA Local 69, and was loved and respected by his friends and colleagues.
In an era where race prohibited many African Americans from advancement, Sergeant Herbert Davis paved the way for other law enforcement officers.
Several members of Peacock’s family were in attendance at the event accepting the award on his behalf.
About Eulace Peacock and the Eulace Peacock Unsung Hero Award:
Eulace Peacock was a 1933 Union High School graduate and a member of the UHS Athletics Inaugural Hall of Fame class. He was one of the world’s leading sprinters and long jumpers in the decades before WWII and is most known for being Jessie Owens’ major rival.
In 1933 in the last meet of his high school career, Peacock set the national scholastic record in the long jump. He went home, clicked on the radio, and learned that a kid in Cleveland had just broken the world record. That kid was Jessie Owens and it was the beginning of an epic rivalry between the two.
Peacock went on to run track at Temple University while Owens went on to run for Ohio State. Although Peacock seldom talked about his achievements, he had much to talk about.
In 1935, the year before Owens would win 4 gold metals in the Berlin Olympics and become an American icon, Peacock defeated him in 7 of their 10 meetings. But Peacock never made that Olympic team because of injuries.
The Eulace Peacock Unsung Hero Award will be given yearly to an individual who has made a substantive yet unrecognized contribution to the Township of Union, be it through athletics, public service, mentorship, or social activism. The award seeks to “recognize those who humbly, diligently and passionately seek change and progression within our community without looking for credit or recognition.”
Unsung heros inspire and impact others without regard to race, color, creed, religion, age, gender, disability or national origin.