As a minister for more than 30 years who believed his ministry would be spent almost entirely in and among the African-American community, I've found the the foundational lessons in leadership I would learn in the Black Church and community, seasoned by many different influences. I have been partners with and mentored by Ernie Cortez, Southwest Region Director of the Industrial Areas Foundation, along with a tremendous group of community organizers and leaders in the IAF, particularly in Dallas and Texas in general; Peter Johnson, a local activist whose history and ties with the Southern Christian Leadership Conference has introduced me to a number of Civil Rights leaders who worked with Martin Luther King, Jr., such as Walter Fauntroy, Joseph Lowery and Fred Shuttlesworth; and of course Larry James, President and CEO of Cental Dallas Ministries and our committed, talented staff. They have all taught me the value of what it means to be concerned for and work in solidarity with the poor, the marginalized and people of different backgrounds to make our country better.
I've learned that we live in a great country. A country so great in fact, that its promise is almost always larger than its practice. But it is a country in which engaged citizens who are willing to project themselves into the public square can move this nation closer to the realization of the greatness of that promise. Sometimes it happens by inches, sometimes by yards, but we can move it closer.
The DREAM Act is one of those initiatives designed to do that. Last year, I wrote an op-ed that was printed in the Dallas Morning News in support of the DREAM Act. While the legislation was defeated last year, I'm still working with another group of great people to move us forward to the realization of justice for young people who only want to benefit a country that has been their home almost all of their lives. Here's the link, I hope you can get behind this effort as well.