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Quit Playin’: Old School…New Leaders!

The Arlington 9: (Top l-r): Stephanie Briant, Darryl Burnham, Miracle Freeman, (Middle l-r): Arminta Jeffreys, Michael Lowe, Melissa Perry and (Bottom l-r: Davante Peters, Lelani Russell and Dion Williams.
Credit: Arlington Police Department

My protégé and mentee is a candidate for Dallas Council Place 8, and I am hype.

This has already been an exciting election cycle. 2021 is reminiscent of the old Oak Cliff battles we saw from 1980-2000. That was when “White flight” from the southern suburbs lured the urban Black middle-class to what I call the “New Oak Cliff (NOC).”

The NOC includes Lancaster, Desoto, Cedar Hill, and Duncanville. We will dig deeper into the misnomers about what “our community” is later this year. We seem locked into old stereotypes about what and who makes up “Black neighborhoods.” Howsenever!

I am excited because the races in council Districts 3, 4, 7, and 8 are hotly contested. My little brother threw his name in the ring and is running hard. This is no veiled attempt to endorse him; this is my personal plea that you consider DaVante D. Peters in the upcoming election.

DaVante’s spirit and resolve are reminiscent of politicians and civil rights leaders from days long past. Real streetfighters like Al Lipscomb and Diane Ragsdale, Dallas City Council’s historic “Dynamic Duo,” have given way to a new breed.

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Back then, Black Dallas politics was full of agitators and liberators. Nowadays, all we get are procrastinators and collaborators. All we get these days are ceremonial leaders who show up at the “groundbreaking” but never break any new ground for minorities or the poor.

Don’t get me wrong. Not every public meeting needs to be loud, rowdy, and fraught with threats in order that the marginalized make progress. However, going along to get along never got us anywhere. The squeaky wheel still gets the grease!

Two of my favorite literary giants make the case that what looks like normalcy is often malignancy for our people.

Amanda Gorman, National Youth Poet Laureate and the youngest inaugural poet in U.S. history, put it this way. “We’ve learned that quiet isn’t always peace, and the norms and notions of what just is, isn’t always just-ice!” During a 1961 radio interview featuring James Baldwin and Lorraine Hansberry, Baldwin took those injustices to heart. He made the moans of Black folks audible and discernible.

“To be a Negro in this country and relatively conscious is to be in a state of rage almost all of the time. It isn’t only what is happening to you. It’s what’s happening all around you in the face of the most extraordinary and criminal in￾difference among most white people in this country.”

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Oddly enough, I met Da-Vante while campaigning with a former candidate during the last council the last cycle. We were at “Monday Night Politics,” and this young upstart with dreadlocks held his own with older and more “seasoned” candidates in the District 3 race.

This brother was young, rough around the edges, and probably overly optimistic. His message centered on lifting the bottom, helping the helpless, listening to his constituents. Davante is the kind of steely young leader we used to forge by fire in Southern Dallas politics. Now, all we get is smoke.

This brother is serious about understanding the problems of the hour in District 8. Meanwhile, DaVante has immersed himself into the political history of Dallas. Lifelong residents readily attest that you cannot change Dallas if you do not know the Dallas story. You can make some personal gains, but that is about it.

MESSAGE – A new release of Jim Schutze’s “The Accommodation is coming this spring. Get a copy!

Social media has been on fire since February. There have been debates, yard-sign thefts, veiled threats, and plenty of cyber-shouting. I love it! We are passionate about local politics again. Local engagement is the penultimate catalyst for positive change and forward progress.

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The Old Oak Cliff and South Dallas/Pleasant Grove have become battlegrounds again. DaVante is a warrior on that field, and if you live in District 8, I would personally appreciate your consideration.

It is time for some New Leaders…Vote for Davante D. Peters! He is the new school, but appreciates and regards the old school. That balance will make a difference.

Vincent L. Hall is an author, activist, and an award-winning columnist.

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Written By

Vincent L. Hall is an author, activist, and award-winning columnist.


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