Where’s the unity in the community?

Special to The Dallas Examiner | 12/2/2013, 1:24 a.m.
“Check your egos at the door.” – Rev Zan W. Holmes
Dallas Skyline

“Check your egos at the door.” – Rev Zan W. Holmes

The Dallas Examiner

A couple of Sundays ago, Rev. Zan W. Holmes delivered a sermon at St. Luke Community United Methodist Church in which one of his teachings was “Check your egos at the door.” As usual in his sermons he makes profound statements and gives examples from our history as illustrations.

He stressed the importance of unity, saying that today there are a lot of bowlers but not as many bowling teams.

In 1968, Holmes was appointed to fill a vacant seat in the Texas Legislature left by the death of Joseph E. Lockridge, an attorney from Dallas who was serving in the Legislature. Lockridge was killed in a Braniff plane crash on May 3, 1968. Holmes was subsequently elected to another two-year term, on the Democratic Party ticket, without opposition. He was one of only two African Americans serving in the Texas House of Representatives at the time.

Holmes tells the story of when he arrived at the Texas House and Curtis Graves, a Black man from Houston, was already serving a term since 1966. Graves taught Holmes how they could work together to get legislation passed that would benefit their constituents. Graves “checked his ego at the door” because he realized that if Holmes’ name was on the bill, the probability of it passing was higher than if his own name was on the bill.

How many of us today would do that? Many achievements were made because Black school trustees worked together for the betterment of the children’s education, Black city council members worked together, Black state representative worked together – there was little or no division.

Today, how often do we have Black elected officials work together? How many times are they in the room together? How likely are they to have a meeting among themselves to benefit the constituents they represent.

How much could we achieve today if we checked our egos at the door? If we didn’t care that our name was associated with the initiative, with calling the group together, with starting the initiative, with conceiving the idea …

If our Black sororities and fraternities came together on a common issue – look at the power we would have.

Approximately one million women belong to Black sororities. The voice of one million women on a signal issue is powerful. We can change public policies that adversely affect African American women.

Unified we can do much, but we must learn to come together on common issues and check our egos at the door.

This was one of the survival techniques of our ancestors. They worked together and achieved much in the past. When we wanted an African American on the Dallas Independent District School Board for the first time, there was a secret strategy meeting held in a garage to discuss how this could be achieved.

A Dallas physician, Dr. Emmitt J. Conrad, in addition to being a surgeon, was an active civic leader and educational advocate. A decision was made that Conrad would run for the seat – in addition to being qualified, his income was not affected by Whites – it was safe.

Conrad became the first African American elected to the Board of Trustees of Dallas ISD in 1967. I am sure there were many dynamics that played out in the room, but they were able to agree on a plan – one person – would run for trustee.

Conrad went on to contribute significantly to education of our children in Texas. He served for 10 years as trustee for the school district. Among his many accomplishments were promotion of the free lunch program for disadvantaged children. In 1983, he served on the Select Committee on Public Education that proposed major reforms to improve education in Texas, including the controversial No Pass/No Play policy. In 1984, Gov. Mark White appointed Conrad as the first African American member of the Texas State Board of Education, a position he held until his death in 1993.

All of the above would not have been achieved had there not been unity in the strategy room and egos checked at the door.

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