Anywhere But Fort Worth Boycott Rages & Points to Black Economic Struggle and Battle for Fairness, Equality and Respect
If we accept and acquiesce in the face of discrimination, we accept the responsibility ourselves. We should, therefore, protest openly everything … that smacks of discrimination or slander. -Mary Mcleod Bethune
FORT WORTH – Like Rosa Parks, Blacks in Fort Worth are sick and tired of decades of the same old practices of the “Fort Worth Way”.
The Black Out Fort Worth Movement is a serious and organized protest whose roots spring from the actions of Rosa Parks and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in 1955 in Montgomery, Alabama.
“We are here to express our dissatisfaction for the way the thing are,” said Rev. Wm T. Glynn, president of the Faith and Community Leaders United of Fort Worth and pastor of the Mount Olive Baptist Church. “Things are not right here in Fort Worth and we can no longer wait on other folk to do things for us. We must stand up and be heard.”
ROSA PARKS BOLD ACTION
The Montgomery City Code required that all public transportation be segregated and that bus drivers had the “powers of a police officer of the city while in actual charge of any bus for the purposes of carrying out the provisions” of the code.
Civil rights activist Parks was heard round the world after she refused to surrender her seat to a white passenger on a public bus Montgomery, Alabama. It spurred on a citywide boycott and helped launch nationwide efforts to end segregation of public facilities. Even though she was arrested and later released, her sacrifice sparked a boycott that brought the city transportation system to its knees and set off a national movement that ended segregation.
FORT WORTH BOILING
Like Montgomery, the Black community in Fort Worth has reached its own boiling point and the action now has turned into a long drawn out struggle directed by Faith and Community Leaders United Fort Worth – a group of Black ministers and community activists, citizens of all races who want to send a strong message to Mayor Betsy Price, Police Chief Joel Fitzgerald, the Fort Worth City Council and the downtown business community that police brutality, ignoring the economic fairness and justice concerns of the community will no longer be tolerated.
Lead by Glynn, the movement has taken on a Montgomery-style flair and promises Montgomery Rosa Parks results.
“This is a Godly coalition being built to point out systematic racism that is in this city,” he said. “We do not seek to use riots or burn buildings, but are the new voices of consciousness and righteousness that are fighting for real changes in our community and for our community.”
He is leading the charge for prayer and peaceful and nonviolent approach to marches and protests rooted in the Church in an attempt to create and accomplish similar economic and civil rights goal successfully achieved by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Rosa Parks and others in the early fight and struggle for rights and equality.
CATALYST FOR NEW MOVEMENT
It has been more than 60 days since the mom, Jacqueline Craig, called police for help for an incident involving her 7-year old son and a White neighbor. The result of the call was instead of justice and service, Craig and teen members of her family were disrespected and arrested by white police officer.
For his role in the incident, the White Fort Worth officer who was shown on video bullying the black mom and earned a 10-day suspension.
That sparked the community to organize Blacks and Browns and hit the streets of downtown Fort Worth with chants of “enough is enough”. – Only this time the outrage has awakened a sleeping giant and the new Civil Rights movement has begun and is set to last much longer than a three-day news cycle and has goals for real changes.
It is a movement that is being led and directed by the local church leaders and community activists who have joined forces in an unprecedented unity that has not been witnessed in the history of the city.
Mayor Price has called the incident, “a clear breach of trust with the community”, but has fallen short of condemning the incident and has not revealed any definitive planned changes. She only has met in meetings and talked with Black folks and the Black community in what she once characterized as “bitch sessions”.
THE CALL TO “BLACK OUT” FORT WORTH
Fort Worth native Attorney Leon Reed, Jr., Chairman of #BlackOutFortWorth, also urged community activism at the Fort Worth March for Justice and let downtown know that this is only the beginning.
Reed Jr is one of the community leaders calling for the “Blackout!” and Economic boycott of Ft. Worth until the city gets serious about justice. Not for some, but for all of its citizens.
“Shop anywhere but Fort Worth,” Reed said. “It’s time to shake it up and use economics to get their attention. We are asking Black and Brown people not to come here, not stay here or spend money in downtown. Black Out Fort Worth now.”
According to city statistics, close to 8.8 million people come downtown annually via tourism, conferences, conventions and community and city events.
“As in the days of Martin Luther King – from the Montgomery bus boycott to the strike by the Memphis garbage workers in 1968 – it has been understood that the best way to communicate with the establishment is talking to it, not through its heart or its ears, but through its pocketbook.,” he said.
Others supporting the movement include pastors, the Rev. Dr. Michael Bell, the Rev. Kenneth Jones and the Rev. Kyev Tatum and a host of other Fort Worth community activists.
The Montgomery Bus Boycott lasted 361 days and after 60-plus days and this united group gathered on the steps of county justice in solidarity to voice its displeasure and called for collective community action that includes a protracted protests, marches and a full boycott of downtown Fort Worth and all of its events.
The protests and marches against patronizing and doing business in downtown Fort Worth is setup for the long-haul with plans to have a deep and powerful impact on tourism, convention business and events downtown.
Leaders and speakers encouraged all marchers and supporters to remain peaceful and to vote in the upcoming municipal elections on May 6.
The downtown marches and protests is not only giving the city a Black eye, but also looks to deal a huge economic blow to the longtime proponents who practice the silent, secret closed door policies of “The Fort Worth Way”.
EXPOSING THE “FORT WORTH WAY”
Historically, it was former Fort Worth Mayor Mike Moncrief who said “the Fort Worth Way” was to talk things out and work together to find ways to solve problems.
Moncrief then insisted regularly on the city handling any uproar or controversy in “The Fort Worth Way.”
However “The Fort Worth Way” is and has always been misleading and false.
It is way that seeks to convince citizens that the mayor, police, city council and city government cares enough to listen, sit down and talk about a problem and truly have a serious stake in finding ways to solve it.
Instead of acting like adults and fellow citizens living together in a community, what most citizens experience is a group of so-called leaders that cower to and hide behind the Dallas-Fort Worth media organizations and use propaganda and double-talk to confuse and convolute the real truth and cloud real issues while casting aspersions and attacking the reputations and integrity of people and organizations that work with the community to make a difference or who oppose city leaders.
Its not about being reasonable or acting like adults and certainly does not involve having a real substantive conversations about an issue.
Truth of the matter is this: “The Fort Worth Way” does not seek to come up with any real solutions.
In reality, the “Fort Worth Way” is a type of “social pecking order” on which the treatment you receive by government agencies and politicians depends upon who you are, how much money you have, and who you know.
“The Fort Worth Way” is that dirty little secret in Fort Worth the directs how the city operates outside the boundaries of fair and equitable treatment, economics and play for Blacks, Browns and all its citizens and residents.
“This is a fight against the ‘Fort Worth Way,” Tatum said. “It’s a new day and there will be a new way as we fight for our fair share and a new deal that moves us from protest to progress.”
SCHOOL DISTRICT EVEN RECOGNIZES INEQUITY PROBLEMS
It is obvious that Fort Worth has issues relating to the equitable distribution of resources and equitable access to opportunity.
Fort Worth Independent School District Trustee Ashley Paz, who represents District 9, revealed a new nondiscrimination policy that she hopes will relate “to the way people interact with each other and individual discrimination.”
“The racial equity policy is about institutional racism, which is specific to policies and procedures that lead to a gap in educational opportunities for students of color, and create disproportionate disadvantages in achievement for students of color,” Paz said.
It becomes one way to address these education gaps by offering more high school learning opportunities about the histories and contributions of African-Americans, women, Hispanics and Native Americans – currently not readily available.
BOYCOTT IMPACT ALREADY EVIDENT
One of the first targets of the boycott was a call not to go or spend money at the Fort Worth Stock Show.
Records show that it may have had an impact.
After two record-setting years, attendance at the 121st Fort Worth Stock Show, attendance fell in 2017.
The tally for the 23-day show, which ended Saturday, was 1,219,300. That is 38,600 fewer visitors than 2016 (1,257,900), and 29,200 fewer than 2015 (1,248,500), according to stock show figures.
ECONOMIC SUNSET LOOMING?
Fort Worth prides itself as the “Gateway to the West” but now is in turmoil.
Black leaders have made it clear that without fair treatment, equitable economic changes and respect for Blacks and Browns, the city may be looking at its best days of progress in its rear view mirror.
By: Darwin Campbell
Photo Credit: TS One Media