A civil rights icon visits the University of Dallas

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The National Mall at Washington D.C.
The National Mall at Washington D.C.
By Nick Krause

Since the University of Dallas opened its doors to students in 1956, it has been the first

integrated private college in the state of Texas.

UD celebrated that heritage and continued the tradition of honoring Martin Luther King Jr.

for his contribution to the civil rights movement with a symposium hosted by the Satish

and Yasmin Gupta College of Business.

The discussion was titled “The Role and Influence of Civil Rights across Generations” and

featured notable civil rights icon and survivor of the 1963 16th Street Baptist Church

bombing, Dale Long.

Long’s activism, starting from his time in Birmingham, is chronicled in the book “Where I

Came From,” which recounts the events of the Bombing of the 16th Street Baptist Church

by Klansmen in 1963.

Since then he has been a founding member of the Garland NAACP, member of the Alpha Phi

Alpha African-American Fraternity, an advocate for the Big Brother and Big Sister

organization and an engineer for Texas Instruments, McDonnell- Douglas and DART.

He now serves as the community outreach coordinator and public information officer for

the city of Dallas.

The symposium also celebrated entrepreneur Royalyn Reid, recipient of the 2016 Dallas

Business Journal Minority Business Leader Award.

Royalyn Reid is president and CEO of Consumer & Market Insights, a multi-million dollar

business consulting firm owned by women and minorities.

She has extensive knowledge of community engagement, as well as race and diversity in

North Texas business and consumer markets.

Reid is also known for her generous philanthropic activities and has spoken before the

Senate Small Business committee.

Junior Bridget Hyde moderated the event.

The event was co-sponsored by the Office of Advancement, the College of Business and the

Office of the President.

The event started with an address from President Keefe, who stressed the importance of

cross-cultural unity.

“We need to do two things,” Keefe said. “First, we need to agree to live the message [of

Martin Luther King Jr.]. We need to remember that his death has not been in vain. This

university is committed to trying [to] follow the message of the prophet Martin Luther King

Jr. We embrace him and we embrace every one of you. You are children of the Lord and the

Lord does not know bounds of nationality, gender or race. The Lord knows your soul.”

After Keefe’s address, Hyde asked the speakers a series of questions related to the civil

rights movement of old and new.

Long stressed the impact of the civil rights movement on his life:

“I grew up in Birmingham, Ala. in the tumultuous ‘50s and ‘60s. I and three other guys were

in the library of the 16th Street Baptist Church, three rooms down from where four of my

friends lost their lives … [It was] a tragic incident that changed my life.”

Both speakers listed several areas where the civil rights movement still works to improve

the status of minority groups.

“One would only have to examine the nightly news or examine most newspapers to find

that only 50 years after the death of Dr. King, that although laws have been put into place to

ensure the integrity of the vote, there is still many ways of voter suppression,” Long said.

“Just this Friday, the Justice Department told the Chicago Police Department that they had

some problems in dealing with minorities and poor people. They use excessive force and

they were given new guidelines like more training.”

Long then brought the situation closer to home:

“I would ask the justice department to take a ride down this way and go to Prairie View or

right next door to Ft. Worth with the problems they are having,” Long said. “I could go on

and on about what’s wrong, but it would be wrong to not offer a solution. The first step in

changing this situation belongs with the people in this room who came to be empowered to

make this world a better place.”

Long listed other issues such as redlining, which is unfair geographic inaccessibility to

services like grocery stores and public transportation, the decline of the nuclear family

structure, drugs, mental illness and the increase in incarceration rates.

Despite those problems, recent statistics gave Reid hope.

“For Caucasian young people where there is more racial injustice going on, there is more

awareness with things like social media,” Reid said. “The research also shows that the rate

of awareness is still very high among African-Americans and that has not changed. They

have always felt there is an issue and now the masses are beginning to see. We still have a

lot more to do.”

Another highlight included Long’s recounting of the funeral of the 16th Street Baptist

Church bombing victims, where he saw Dr. Martin Luther King Jr:

“I went to elementary school with Dr. King’s nephews, and we were best buddies growing

up,” Long said. “That used to scare my mother to death because they went and got arrested

and locked up. She was afraid we’d get involved. I had heard Dr. King a few times, but I had

never seen him till the funeral. The bombing was Sunday morning and Carol’s funeral was

Tuesday. Standing in front of 16th Avenue Baptist Church as I watched the recessional,

then the ministers followed and there he was: Dr. King. He was standing 10 feet away. It

was an experience I could never forget. As I noticed the presence of Dr. King, it was such a

powerful experience. I was 11 years old and tried to look away. When I turned around it

was like he was looking right at me. If you combine that experience with my grandmother’s

advice to pray, live upright and get a good education, I call that my epiphany.”

Finally, Long challenged young people to take up the reins of the civil rights movement.

“Young people: you have a lot of work to do. I could go on and on about what’s wrong, but I

made up my mind to bring up solutions.”

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