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Black/Brown Summit

By Cecil Sharp |

The list of participants reads like a who’s who in the Dallas minority community: county commissioner John Wiley Price; Gloria de la Cruz of the Mayor’s Hispanic Task Force; Fettis Norman, Dallas Together cochairman; DART board member Trinidad Garza; park board member Rene’ Martinez: county criminal court judge Larry Baraka; and Helen Gid-dings, executive director of the Dallas Alliance. And the event that attracted them was even more significant than this roster of impressive résume’s suggests.

The Black/Brown Summit held on May 21 brought together some 100 leaders from both minority communities, many of whom had not been allied before. The all-day work session, a result of planning by Price and lawyer Domingo Garcia, is the culmination of a long-in-the-making effort to heal past divisions and marry the two groups’ collective clout. In spite of efforts by Mayor Annette Strauss’s task force on race relations to open communications among races, some minority leaders say that they have grown impatient with “dialoguing” with whites. Organizers of the summit are ready to stop talking and start acting.

Among the list of specific resolutions that came out of the meeting: elect a minority Dallas mayor in 1991; pressure Dallas banks to pump more dollars into minority businesses and communities; place minorities on at least two more DISD school board seats in 1990; increase the number of minorities in media management; win at least 40 percent of Dallas County agencies contract work; and force DISD to hire minority teachers in proportion to the number of DISD minority students. Future meetings are slated.

But the list of resolutions may not be the primary importance of the summit. “The most important thing,” says Giddings, “is the fact that it happened. The next time it won’t be enough, but sometimes it’s just enough for people to take the first step.”

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