Monday, December 12, 2011

In Memoriam: Kathlyn Joy Gilliam (1930-2011)

Kathlyn Joy Gilliam, Dallas ISD's first female black school board member died yesterday. 

Ms. Gilliam served on the school board for 23 years, during which time she was a fierce advocate for diversity, equity and justice for Dallas children. But her service to her city and community didn't stop there. She was the founder and President of  'Clean South Dallas' an organization dedicated to organizing and empowering South Dallas residents to make changes in their neighborhoods through education, training and community involvement. 

Quite simply, Ms. Gilliam was an icon in Dallas politics and culture. She was a true example of committed service to her people, her community and her city. 

Ms. Gilliam was also an integral part in the work of 'Unify South Dallas', a coalition formed to educate and organize South Dallas residents for effective engagement and participation in the redevelopment taking place in the area. Ms. Gilliam was presence encouraged, challenged and informed those of us involved in the process. 

This year Dallas Independent School District recognized Ms. Gilliam's considerable contributions to public education and her city by naming a newly constructed campus in her honor. The Kathlyn Joy Gilliam Collegiate Academy is a fitting tribute to a life of sacrificial service. 

Several years ago, I had the privilege of joining Ms. Gilliam on a fact finding trip to Atlanta, Georgia, to learn more about their experience with the 1996 Olympics and its impact on its low income neighborhoods. She was an inspiration to be around. 

Her memory will be no less inspirational...

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