Local History Thursday: An Interview with African-American Activist David Combs

Mesa County Libraries is pleased to present an interview with local activist David Combs, the first in the Mesa County Oral History Project’s new Social Justice Archive (created in partnership with the Black Citizens and Friends organization, Professor Sarah Swedberg, activist Shannon Robinson, and Mr. Combs). The Social Justice Archive will explore the local manifestation of the important Black Lives Matter movement and the lives of people in the movement.

In this premiere installment of Mr. Combs’ multipart story, he talks fondly about growing up in a multiethnic neighborhood in Minneapolis, and about excelling as a student and football player in both high school and college. He then discusses working in the oil fields in Rock Springs, Wyoming, in Grand Junction just before the oil shale bust, and working with teenagers for social services agencies.

Mr. Combs also speaks about the bias, prejudice, and sometimes overt racism that he has faced on his journey from the projects in north Minnesota to the vice president of sales for a Western Colorado financial institution. These personal trials include his inability to find someone willing to rent to a Black person upon his arrival in Grand Junction in 1980.

Thanks to activism born of these trials, Mr. Combs has helped bring about positive changes in Mesa County, including the creation of our local Martin Luther King Jr. Day celebration, and his involvement in a Colorado Mesa University task force working to improve the lives of African American students.

We welcome you to listen to this important new series on Mesa County history. Interested in taking part in the Social Justice Archive? You can sign up to be a volunteer interviewer or interviewee from the Social Justice Archive webpage.

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