Blacks, Hispanics in unison

DALLAS–Don’t believe the hype about the Black and Hispanic community at odds with each other, said representatives from at least two civil rights groups. A joint meeting, held at the Non Profit Community Center by the Dallas branches of the Southern

DALLAS–Don’t believe the hype about the Black and Hispanic communities at odds with each other, said representatives from at least two civil rights groups. A joint meeting, held at the Non Profit Community Center by the Dallas branches of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference and the Hispanic Leadership Forum, was determined to show that a true bonding of the Black and Brown communities are real and getting stronger.

“This is something special,” said Derrick Bowman, president of the Dallas SCLC. “Today marks the opportunity to let the world and this city know that Blacks, Browns and Whites can actually come together and dialogue to get things done.” With Dallas being a predominantly minority city, where the Black and Hispanic population combine to outnumber the Anglo segment, it makes sense for the two minority groups to forge partnerships with each other, as well as with the Anglo population to form a true tri-ethnic front, said Michael Gonzales, Chairman of the Hispanic Leadership Forum.

“When we look at 66 percent of the citizens in Dallas being African Americans and Hispanics and that over 90 percent of our school district is African American and Hispanic, we have more in common that unite us than issues that divide us,” Gonzales said. “We realize the trends of the way things are going. I believe we can do things better together. We are the majority.”

According to statistics quoted by Gonzales, Blacks and Hispanics make up 27 percent of Dallas’ purchasing power or $41 billion, and comprise over 70,000 businesses collectively. That represents a power that needs to be recognized and distributed more into their own respective communities.

"We are contributors,” said Gonzales. “If we can have the passion to develop the W (Hotel and Victory Park), Deep Ellum and Uptown, where’s our passion to develop Fair Park and Oak Cliff?"

Bowman said both the SCLC and HLF are also working together to dispel the myth that the two groups are in strong discord and unable to collaborate on worthy projects.

“The perception is that it’s not happening,” Bowman said. “We’re showing that both ethnic groups can actually come together. It’s a progressive as well as an aggressive attempt.”

Bowman, Gonzales and Mayor Tom Leppert all took questions from the audience to address critical issues that both communities share, along with injecting how to bring solutions that will help move Blacks and Browns forward. Affordable housing became one of the topics.

“About 60-65 percent of Blacks and Hispanics still live in apartments, therefore, we cannot create wealth,” Gonzales said. “You see gentrification occurring where you had traditional affordable housing for Hispanics and African Americans.”

Leppert said Dallas showing itself as a diverse and harmonious city among their ethnic groups presents a good image that will better attract individuals and businesses to desire to move here, giving Dallas a competitive edge.

“There are a lot of persons who want to see their cities, counties and countries succeed,” Leppert said.

Two recent similar issues regarding the renaming of streets and buildings after people of color arose with both African Americans and Hispanics, where Gonzales and Bowman criss-crossed their support.

Gonzales and HLF are fighting to have Industrial Boulevard renamed after late Hispanic civil rights and labor activist Cesar Chavez. A strong majority of the public actually voted in favor of the renaming through a city-sponsored poll taken last month, part of the Trinity River Corridor redevelopment plan. Several city council members downplayed the poll results and backed out of going through with the renaming, which upset many in the Hispanic community.

Segments of the African-American community were displeased at the last DISD school board meeting, when the board defeated the proposal to name the administration building after former longtime school board member Kathlyn Gilliam. The vote was defeated 6-3 with the three African American members being outnumbered by both the White and Hispanic trustees.

“Where are the [city structures named] after African Americans and Hispanics?” Gonzales said. “We know their [whites] history, but they don’t know ours.”

An attempt to end “economic segregation” was discussed. Gonzales spoke of several African American and Hispanic businesses that are “viable and have the competency to repay loans, but in many cases, these banks will not loan them the money.”

In 2003, both of Dallas’ Black and Hispanic contractors associations signed a memorandum of understanding to jointly go after prime contract dollars.

“We want to demystify the illusion that Blacks and Hispanics don’t want to work together, he said. “We want to meet with Corporate America and develop a master plan.”

That also pertains to the future redistricting of city council seats, which will take place after the 2010 census count. It was speculated that up to nine of the 14 seats could be Black or Hispanic populated, 5-4 one way or the other.

In crime and public safety, Leppert said the city council has approved a budget where the police department will add 200 new officers a year. Gonzales and Bowman committed to help the city with strong code enforcement and to bring a convention center hotel to the city.

“With the leadership of SCLC and the Hispanic Leadership Forum, we can show from the top that these two groups are willing to come together,” said Bowman.

“Then, when we do this, our kids and grandkids can show that we can work together.”

Special to the NNPA from the Dallas Examiner


Copyright 2008 NNPA. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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