ST. LOUIS — Elliott Davis, a longtime reporter at FOX 2, just announced his retirement after 45 years on St. Louis television. Known for his “You Paid For It” series on government waste, Davis’s has often shared his memories growing up near the Pruitt-Igoe public housing projects.

In 2016, Davis posted a childhood photo on Facebook, showing himself as a seven-year-old in front of the projects. The post received thousands of comments and reactions. Former residents shared a mix of positive and negative memories, including the initial hope of moving into the projects and the later challenges of violence and deteriorating conditions.

“Our house was right across the street on Gamble and Jefferson. Most of my free time was spent on the Pruitt side of the projects, where most of my friends were. For some reason, I was always on guard when I had to go into the Igoe part of the projects. As people who lived in the area knew, everything was extremely territorial. You were always on guard when you moved out of your zone,” writes Davis on Facebook.

In another Facebook from 2018, Davis reflected on his life’s journey, and overcoming obstacles. He hopes to inspire the next generation to seize opportunities for a better future.

“One of the amazing things about my journey from being a kid in the old St. Louis Pruitt Igoe public housing projects, and graduating from Vashon High School to becoming a news reporter is meeting a lot of kids who are growing up in the same type of inner-city neighborhood as I did. I get to talk to them about overcoming obstacles and the path to success.

It’s always priceless to see their expressions when I tell them where I grew up. I try to convey that where you started doesn’t have to dictate where you end up.

I’ve met a lot of people since I’ve been covering the plight of the homeless. Many of them have been told from an early age that they can’t make it because they’re Black. I try to be an example of what’s possible. Going all the way back to tell them about how I witnessed legal segregation firsthand. But with a lot of work, from Black people and other people of goodwill, we ultimately did overcome.

I tell them how I’ve seen enough changes to be hopeful of resolving other troubling issues. I think some see me, and the lights go on, and they figure that they too can succeed.

I sometimes stop and ponder the great journey of my life. I actually knew my great grandmother when I was a child. She was a slave. So it’s amazing to have a direct connection to that far back in the nation’s history. From there to here, it is truly amazing. I have the advantage of having seen a lot of history. I love relaying that history to kids in my travels and letting them know that there is a bright future for them if they grab it.”

Elliott Davis

Davis will officially retire on August 2. He’s excited to spend more time with his daughter and granddaughter. Davis has won several awards and has interviewed top officials, including governors and presidents. His investigations have led to significant reforms and legislative changes.