My attendance at a funeral caused me to miss this past Saturday's Unify South Dallas community meeting. But the report in the Dallas Morning News, made me proud of the leadership and their presentation of a very important aspect of the coalition's agenda: the redesign of S.M. Wright Freeway, a concrete scar cutting its way through the heart of the community.
Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT), proposes grading the road and making it a six lane highway, with few points of egress. Unify South Dallas supports the design developed and proposed by a larger number of residents calling for a 4 lane highway, with more points of egress, allowing for more economic development and less traffic.
"“You want to put a road in our community because you think it will make traffic flow better for people who go through, without concern for people in the community,” said Jeffery Muhammad, a member of Unify South Dallas’ steering committee."
"TxDOT officials did not attend the meeting, but Tim Nesbitt, the agency’s lead engineer on the project, has said four lanes simply aren’t enough to carry the number of cars the agency expects will use the road."
"Muhammad and others questioned that on Saturday, saying that more drivers will use S.M. Wright if it has more lanes. If the street is smaller, fewer drivers will use it as a cut-through, they said."
TxDOT, by the way, did not attend the meeting, because the purpose of the meeting was to review and respond to written questions posed to the state agency by the group through it's council representative.
"There also were questions about renderings that TxDOT has presented showing a lushly landscaped boulevard lined with green grass and a variety of trees."
"So far, no one has told the community who will pay to maintain that landscaping, Muhammad said."
"“Look how they maintain the grass and everything else on the other highways, and that will give you an idea how it will look,” he said."
Of course after the article online, there is opportunity for public comment. Some reasonable people had some things worth saying - although in fairness, their comments could be no more informed than the article they read, so while there may have been opposition, it could be taken with a grain of salt.
And then there are the mean-spirited, hateful and hate-filled comments of others...
"The reason there will be no developement is because of the meddling of groups like unify south dallas and neighborhood residents looking for something for nothing."
"If it's like anything else in the neighborhood, it won't matter what is ultimately decided. The neighborhood citizens itself will cause the road to deteriorate faster than normal, then they will complain about not getting the necessary gov't assistance. There is no pleasing South Dallas residents."
I know, I really need to ignore this tripe...and I shouldn't take time to respond (although I did). I'll be more disciplined next time.
I was thinking more about how to respond more strongly, and what biting sarcasm I could use to embarrass people who feel safe hiding behind the blogesphere to say things with screen names that they would never have the courage to say face to face.
But then I remembered an appearance by Maya Angelou on a BET gospel music show that claimed my attention. I saw it a few weeks ago and it has challenged me ever since.
In the last segment of the show, she recites a poem that she wrote entitled "When I Thinks About Myself". It's a poem about the quiet dignity and courageous survival of our African-American forefathers and mothers in the face of ridicule and inhumane treatment. And in the closing minutes she talks about those who feel themselves superior to other people. "No one" says our country's premier prophetic poet laureate, "can be more human than anyone else. You can be richer, skinnier, prettier...but you can never be more human..." and when it comes to retaliating against the unkindness of others, she says the best response is to say, "...I release you from my ignorance."
There are few women whose lives and legacy have been a blessing to so many.
You'll have to move ahead to about 33:17 into this broadcast for the segment. But please watch!
You will be profoundly moved...
And now, after having been properly chastened. Let me again express my pride in my friends with Unify South Dallas, and encourage all of us to stay focused and keep working!