I was recently talking with Curtis King of The Black Academy of Arts and Letters and he mentioned that he had been at this for 36 years. I also was aware that Mrs. Ann Williams was stepping down at the Dallas Black Dance Theater after 37 years. Those two icons made me reflect on the last 40 years in Dallas, Texas and especially in Dallas South. King and Williams are just two examples of accomplishments that have occurred in the last 40 years. There is always the undercurrent of what Dallas South doesn’t have, but I would beg you to acknowledge what it does have.
In the last 40 years, Vernell Sturns was the first CEO of DFW Airport, Pettis Norman open the first Burger King owned by a black man in West Dallas, while Marvin Robinson was doing the same in Oak Cliff . There was also, Clara’s Kitchen where we all gathered for conversation and relaxation and now we have Black Jack Pizza at Atlanta and MLK and it’s the only pizza place in Dallas South. R.L. Blues Palace continues to be a strong source of real “down home” blues each Friday and Saturday night and the Coach’s Corner as well as the Cliff Club are still standing strong.
The Bishop Five was created to help Paul Quinn College that made the leap from Waco and President Mike Sorrell has given it a valiant effort to uphold the 3837 Simpson Stuart Road address which is the former location of Bishop College. Denny Davis, Freddie Haynes, Karry Wesley, Jeffery Johnson and Anthony Earl Sharp stepped up to the plate in unity for the cause of education in Dallas. Each one of those pastor’s churches have flourished since the inception of the Bishop Five that raised over $2million for Paul Quinn. Of course Pastor E.K. Bailey started Concord church on Polk and now look at it on Pastor Bailey Drive, under the leadership of Bryan Carter. This $24million project was recognized in the Dallas Business Journal as of the largest developments in Dallas in 2013, not just Dallas South. It could be the catalyst for The Camp Wisdom Corridor business and of course that leads me to Mrs. Edna Pemberton and her relentless efforts at Southwest Center Mall (Redbird) and it appears to be on the way back to revitalization. Keep your eyes on Concord and Bryan Carter, because he too has stepped up to the plate.
Dallas has had a very special political/civic team in place. Tom Perkins as city attorney, David Brown as Police Chief, Chief Bright leading the fire department, Commissioner John Wiley Price all in office at the same time. That speaks volumes. Senator Royce West, Mayor Ron Kirk and State Representative Helen Giddings all worked together for the concept and erection of The University of North Texas at Dallas and it is on it’s way to being a major force of education in Dallas South. Now coupled with all of that and a mayor (Mike Rawlings) who has a vision of Dallas South, to GROW SOUTH.
There have been a few missteps along the way in the last 40 years, but clearly there have been those who have step up to the plate and performed. This space won’t allow for all of the accomplishments of those in Dallas South who have been fighters and winners, but I do want to recognize that all has not been a lost cause , as some would have you believe. The question as simple as the old school yard days would be, who’s got next? Who has the next 40 and has the generation before them done an ample job of passing the baton? Just my thoughts,.