By: Arielle Johnson
If you want to sum up the year for Black people here in Dallas, you will have to mix the joy with the pain. Senseless acts of violence still plague our communities, and the gentrification of South Dallas is inevitable, as evidenced by the big jump in attendance of those wanting to bid on properties listed in the quarterly auction back in March of this year. As compared to the previous City Auction, the numbers more than doubled. Doubling of attendees means more bids, which drives up the rate of the property. Many have wondered what they can do to stop the gentrification which is forcing up the cost of housing and forcing them to relocate. How can you expect people who are disabled and elderly, who have been taught to stretch their government checks until they holler, to cut back on anything else, most of us would classify as a necessity.
So, the Trinity Toll got nixed, while many of the West Dallas residents were presented with what appeared to be opportunities to buy properties they were renting for as low as $300/month, but the kicker, was they were welcome only owners until they died. There will never be an executor of any estate when they pass on, because once they are gone, the property will go back to the original owner. Talk about being caught between a rock and a hard place. But wait a minute…who else is renting properties/private homes here in Dallas at $300/month? Regardless of how torn down it may appear to be on the outside, it’s still a home.
Well, while longtime residents of West Dallas were being courted with these pseudo home owner agreements, the people under the bridge were being told to get ready to move, because tent city dismantlement was on the way. One of the most notable tent cities was at the corner of 45 and MLK and it caused quite a bit of a stir in the community. Brother Thomas Mohammed held a press conference there over the summer and told the media, he and other South Dallas residents were tired of having to deal with the problems resulting from the displacement of the homeless people living under the bridge. He sent a strong message to the people downtown, letting them know a more permanent solution was needed to remedy the homeless problem, because once the homeless population’s temporary help ran out, they were going to be out in the streets again, demanding motorists and residents of the neighborhood take care of them, by giving them some “spare change”. And what in the flying $%^& is “spare change”?
Our new City Manager T.C. Broadnax came in in February of this year, and brought most of his team with him from the State of Washington. It seemed to him, he had to clean house because the people who he found in City Hall when he arrived were clueless about how serious of a housing problem the city had. His nickname around town became T.C.B. before he could really even get the seat of his office chair warm. Mr. T.C.B. appointed Nadia Chandler-Hardy (a former staffer from his Washington State office) as Chief of Community Services to go out into the community and encourage non-profits to consider filling in in areas the city was expected to fall short in while they searched for more permanent solutions to the housing problem. The focus – the homeless population.
South Dallas was definitely on everyones’ mouth this year when CitySquare CEO, Larry James decided to try his hand at entertainment and decided to purchase the Forest Theater. According to a member of the African-American community, who was part of the bidding process on this key piece of property at the corner of MLK and 45, he had no idea after negotiating with the owners for months and months, they were close to making a deal with anyone else. This gentleman by the way specializes in providing classy, top entertainment acts whose names are known across households in America and abroad. The sad part about this was it was months after the property was sold to CitySquare, that the African-American community became aware there were African-Americans interested in purchasing the property with the buying power to make it a reality. We don’t expect there to be any pie sharing on what more than likely will soon become a historical theater district, as numerous attempts made by this African-American party with the funds to play, to reach CitySquare, have been ignored. They have accepted defeat and simply chalked it up as being a situation where the owner of the property knew who he wanted to sell the property all along. Maybe, by some stroke of fate, they will be able to earn a stake in what will more than likely become one of the city’s top entertainment centers within the next 5-10 years.
And Commissioner John Wiley Price…what sort of magic did he possess to emerge from the courtroom unscathed by the corruption trial that seemed to last forever. As you watched him go in and out of the court for 7 weeks, it looked as if the spark was leaving his eyes. But hey….not so fast! Before long he was out and about and conducting business from his office downtown as usual. Recently an African immigrant took news crews through a warehouse displaying 100s of art collectibles, and stated in so many words that Commissioner John Wiley Price’s side hustle was reselling African imports.
Fair Park unveiled a new building called the Briscoe Carpentar Livestock Center and has held several meetings there during the Fair to help foster the idea of non-profits and small businesses in the Fair Park/South Dallas area, partner with each other. As Dr. Froswa stated during a Non-Profit Luncheon, donors nowadays want to see you partnering and collaborating with other groups. The Martin Luther King Freedom Farm is a huge testament to the fact that collaborations are possible and are capable of achieving great things. The non-profit in the MLK Center, Miles of Freedom wanted to start a non-profit and had a member, Tyrone Day, who was an expert horitculturist, who was perfect for the job. Brad Boa, a do-gooder from the other side of town, helped them to make a connection to SMU’s Professor Owen Lynch, who through his professional network, was able to provide them with a greenhouse and a plan to make learning about growing your own food educational.
And the Charlottesville standoff between White supremacists and those who wanted to see America be made great for everyone once and for all, caused a ripple effect across the nation, as people started calling for the removal of Confederate statues all over the country. Well, that was until the Sons of the Confederates took a stand and said, “Hey, what is y’all doing?” But Dallas has already made up its mind, you can be just as confederate as you want to be, but in a democratic society we represent everyone, therefore we will have a hearing so everyone can speak. Eventually, Robert E. Lee was lifted from Turtle Creek’s Arlington Park, but not without a little drama. How do you show up to remove a heavy statue with inadequate equipment? You mean to tell me that in the midst of removing the statue on Facebook live, the whole process came to a screeching halt. Well…that’s exactly how it went down.
Everytime you look around people are fanning childhood poverty statistics in front of our faces, but for the mayor to finally put together a Dallas Poverty Task Force, THAT’S progress. We all know the children are poor because they are products of the parents who are poor; but we want to break the cycle. With the help of Pastor Haynes, a policy making committee was called together at his church to tackle the drivers of poverty to begin the process of breaking the curse.
The iciing on the cake for many of our Sisters this year, in and around Dallas, was being able to witness stylishly dressed, Sister Renee Hall from Detroit, MI coming into Dallas to assume the role of as the first sister to do it. Yes…she wears a uniform, but when she gets dressed up, school is in session.
Happy Kwanzaa and Happy New Year Dallas Everyone!!!!!