July 1, 2008
Volume 1 - No.6
Darwin Campbell, Executive Publisher
A Bi-Weekly Publication
"The Most Powerful Pages on the Planet"
SCHOOLING THE BOARD:
Respect Dallas’ Education Princess
DALLAS- Respect is something earned and no one in Dallas deserves more respect than Kathlyn Gilliam.
She is one of the most respected Black education pioneers in Dallas - a title she has earned with sweat dripping from her brow.
Gilliam has influenced hundreds of Dallas students with her genuine spirit and superior example.
That is why the community remains baffled by the ignorance and stubborn approach some on the Dallas Independent School District Board are taking when it comes to honoring Gilliam for her years of dedication and commitment to improving the DISD and her community.
However, her work has not gone unnoticed among DISD Trustee Carla Ranger, community leaders, supporters and others she has influenced for good.
In a growing ground swell of grassroots support, hundreds of community leaders, friends and colleagues are uniting and committed to standing in solidarity with Gilliam and will fight by her side until the Dallas Independent School District properly recognizes her tireless community service and numerous achievements in the district.
“Just what does one have to do in Dallas to get proper respect,” said long-time activist C. Wilbert. “This is a women from Dallas who has been a strong crusader and given her whole life trying to better this city, its schools and its youth. How much more do you have to do?”
District leaders balked at the idea of naming its own administrative building after her – a building with its own particular sordid past and history of segregationist thinking, policies and practices.
Some however said they would consider naming a new school after her, but not just yet.
Gilliam, now 77, is the education “Warrior Princess” of Dallas who even today, continues in the struggle to improve education, schools and inspire and teach the younger generation.
She is a true hero who has fought a never-ending fight for quality education for the children of Dallas even long after her own children graduated.
Gilliam was the first African-American elected after the Dallas Independent School Board switched to single-member districts.
She was the first African-American elected as president of the board and served on that board for 23 years.
No one has been more outspoken and fought harder to level the civil rights and educational playing fields for African-Americans than Gilliam.
“This is not over yet,” said Coalition for the Advancement of Civil Rights leader Lee Alcorn. “The road to justice is paved through struggle and this is another one of those struggles we face on that journey.”
It was Gilliam, along with other leaders in the struggle in Dallas, who played major roles in four court orders dealing with desegregation and institutional racism, the creation of magnate schools, the rezoning of schools, and the desegregation of top staff in the DISD.
She was also instrumental in the renovation of Lincoln High School.
All her energy and efforts over the years forced DISD to change and rethink its positions after years of neglect, unacceptable attitudes and policies against Black children.
Gilliam’s personal life also is a testimony to her as she has proven herself devoted to family and community and stood up for strong family values and work ethics.
Many who know her praise her for being vocal and not giving up on the children or community and fighting the battle at times, even with little to no support.
She also is known to many as one who always encouraged her family and others to work hard, learn from mistakes and be good citizens of the community.
Her list of community accomplishments is impressive including being founder of the Political Congress of African-American Women/Dallas Chapter; the Selena Butler Leadership Development Institute; and Clean South Dallas Fair Park, Inc. to name a few.
She also was involved in development of South, West, East and Short North Dallas Learning Centers.
Her work has even been documented in a 2006 documentary, “No Ways Tired: Kathlyn Gilliam and the De-Segregation of Dallas Public Schools”. It won first place at the Juneteenth Film Festival for Best Documentary that same year.
She is one of Dallas’ best-known advocates for equal education opportunities and that must not be forgotten or ignored.