Trial Puts Justice, Civil Rights Legacy and
Era of Community Service on The Line
“In the past, the greatest weapon the white man has had has been his ability to divide and conquer. If I take my hand and slap you, you don’t even feel it. It might sting you because these digits are separated. But all I have to do to put you back in your place is bring those digits together.”– Malcolm X
DALLAS– District 3 Dallas County Commissioner John Wiley Price remains one of the best modern examples of a servant’s heart.
For the past 8 weeks, he has been on trial and in a fight to save a legacy of service and a lifetime of hard work forging Black unity, building Black pride and fighting for the civil rights of the disenfranchised.
“Our Man Downtown” is accused of accepting more than $1 million in bribes in exchange for his vote on contracts with the city. He is also accused of mail fraud.
Price, the county’s longest-serving member of the commissioner’s court, is one of four defendants who were indicted by federal authorities in 2014 on 13 counts of bribery conspiracy, mail fraud and income tax evasion.
The core of the case against them is an accusation of systematic bribery in which a lobbyist is alleged to have funneled bribes to Price over many years from businesses seeking county contracts and favors.
During the trial, his whole life has been turned upside down, dissected and examined. Tens of thousands of file after file of personal and government records have been sifted through by FBI authorities in an effort to defame the political superstar and taint and reduce his humble dynasty into piles of rubble.
His fate and future are now in the hands of a jury.
Price, a long-time Dallas civil rights advocate, denies any wrongdoing.
Through all the pressures of trial and media crucifixion, Price has been full of faith, calm and remains a hard worker, a seeker of truth, a warrior for justice, and a visionary leader.
In an era that saw him represent and fight for the people, Price has garnered many detractors and been the target of the Dallas media and power elites in the city for decades because of his actions, outspoken character and his ability to be the visible conscience of doing what is right for the people.
A Man of Firsts
John Wiley Price is the first African American elected to the Dallas County Commissioner’s Court, and has served for more than 25 years and remains as passionate and popular as he was when he first took office on January 1, 1985.
Road and Bridge District #3, under the supervision of Commissioner John Wiley Price, is responsible for the maintenance, improvement and construction of roads in the central and southeast portions of the County.
Presently, District #3 maintains 122.57 miles of County road and participates in numerous joint road projects and fully reimbursed contract work with area municipalities.
He is a respected leader who applies the discipline of management and stewardship to every aspect of his personal and professional life.
The People’s Prize Fighter
Price has strategically positioned himself in the heat of the battle on behalf citizens who have been traditionally locked out of the systems and institutions that govern their daily lives. He became the 17th Commissioner of District 3 in the counties 142 year history when he took the oath of office. He is committed to addressing, advancing real change and achieving real results.
His unyielding dedication to and direction of Dallas County resources toward fiscal health and efficiency have quieted the Nightmare that usually exists in local government.
Price Case Linked to Historical “Harassment” of Black Officials
The John Wiley Price Case begs the question of what is the government’s affinity and passion for going after and humiliating Black elected officials, especially those who have not sold out to “The Man” In his book, Rumor, Repression and Racial Politics, author George Derek Musgrove looks at the serious history of black elected officials being investigated for alleged wrongdoing. He examines the vital role of race in U.S. politics between 1965 and 1995 and discovered in part that at best there at concerns about how Black officials appear to have higher chances of being more closely scrutinized and even investigated that other counterparts holding similar positions.
During that period, Musgrove was serving as an assistant professor of history at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County when he addressed the phenomenon with National Public Radio on July 13, 2012.
He stops short of calling it a conspiracy, but did open the door to the idea that a type of harassment ideology exists.
Created in the 1970s, the harassment ideology is a set of ideas that black elected officials used in an attempt to examine and figure out what was happening to Black officials.
What stirred his curiosity was statements by black elected officials claiming that the government and the news media was out to get them, and that a conspiracy existed to undermine black leadership.
According to the book, much of the research spanning the 1960s to the mid-1990s, demonstrated patterns of disproportionate targeting.
It is no secret now that in 1960s and 1970s, huge numbers of protesters, anti-war protesters, African-American activists, women’s rights activists were placed under surveillance or targeted for counter-intelligence by the government.
However, further digging revealed large numbers of black elected officials being investigated, including every single member of the Congressional Black Caucus under investigation by the FBI, the CIA, the Secret Service during that period.
Musgrove offers great wisdom and thoughts from that book of research that mirrors what is happening in 2017.
What happened throughout the post-Civil Rights period with activists and Black elected officials then no different today. Those who attempt to speak for the people often get swept up in that surveillance and counter-intelligence.
Proof In Dallas ‘Spoiled Pudding’
Price case follows long list of Black politicians caught up in the FBI stings, investigations and webs.
The case comes on the heels of the biggest public corruption scandal in the city’s history that involved a racially charged affair that landed a host of African-American southern Dallas politicians in hot water and later in prison.
Some include Don Hill, a former mayor pro tem and mayoral hopeful; his wife, political consultant Sheila Farrington; and his appointee to the City Plan Commission, D’Angelo Lee.
In 2009 all three were convicted on multiple counts of bribery and extortion.
The following year, Texas House member Terri Hodge pleaded guilty to fraud. All were involved in a scheme to shake down white developers from North Dallas who wanted to build low-income apartment buildings in South Dallas.
Also The late James Fantroy, a former Dallas renowned city councilman who fought hard and prevailed in the strong-mayor fight, ended up being investigated and was convicted for embezzling money from Paul Quinn College, where he had served on the board.
The Late Al Lipcomb, one of the city’s most recognizable civil rights activists, served 15 years on the city council, but in 2000 was convicted on 65 counts of bribery and conspiracy. The verdict was later thrown out on a technicality, but the scandal effectively ended his political career in the city.
During his tenure as District Attorney, FBI agents even showed up at the office of district attorney Craig Watkins, who at the time was the county’s first Black DA.
The facts speaks truth to power that something is just not right for Black elected officials in Dallas Texas.
Always Our Man
No matter what the outcome, none can deny the value of John Wiley Price to South Dallas, Dallas County and to the cause for justice, civil rights and equality in Dallas.
For more than twelve years, he was the nightly host of KKDA’s “Talk Back, Liberation Radio”. John Wiley Price continued in his crusade to educate the community by serving as host of Liberation Nation KNON 89.3 for more than six years thereafter. Currently he serves up an informative and enlightening Commentary at KKDA 730 AM on Tuesday and Thursday mornings as well as having served as a regular guest host for Cheryl Smith’s Reporter’s Roundtable which airs on KKDA each Sunday morning.
Price is the Founder and President of KwanzaaFest, Inc., the largest community, cultural event in the state established in 1991. It is known for serving tens of thousands with health screenings. KwanzaaFest plays host to an excess of 50,000 patrons and embraces the seven principles of the African American holiday, Kwanzaa.
He continues to work hard and serve in his capacity and stands strong in the face of chaos and controversy with a strong will and the assurance of his purpose in life.
Much like the Apostle Paul, wherever he goes his advocacy for justice is sure to cause a riot or a revival. Much more has been done for people and the community by Price that this one news story cannot hold.
While Some see him as a faithful friend and others a formidable foe – John Wiley Price is both motivator and a liberator.
“Our Man Downtown” has a passion to enhance the value and quality of life for all people and the community.
No Matter what a jury decides – Black History will judge John Wiley Price as a real Black man with the kind of serious drive and total unstoppable commitment to lead in the never ending struggle for justice.