DSB: Casey, why did you decide to run for President of the Dallas Chapter of the NAACP?
CT: Thank you Shawn for this opportunity. I chose to run for President for the Dallas branch of the NAACP because there is a need for change. Dallas is at a point of transition like it has never gone through before. There was a complete change in county leadership with the Democrats taking over the county, and with the election of Craig Watkins as the first African-American District Attorney in the history of Dallas County. With the passing of the recent bond package, there will be tremendous development that will take place in the southern sector of the city within the next few years.
Also, we will be electing a new mayor and at least four and a possible five new city council representatives in predominately African American and Hispanic districts within the next six months. We need a leader and an organization that will move forward with a progressive agenda for the African American community and will tell the candidates if you want our support, and then you must support our agenda. I am that person and the NAACP is that organization.
DSB: In your estimation, what are the top issues facing African-Americans in Dallas.
CT: Education, Economic Development, Crime and Safety, and Health
We still have a problem in this country when the achievement gap between African American students and White students continues to increase. We must hold the district accountable for rectifying this problem and demand that the district implements the Covenants and Commitments that were approved as board policy at the time the district was taken out from the desegregation order (see the Dallas ISD website under Covenants and Commitments for details).
We need a voice for African American contractors to make sure that they get their fair share on contracts and projects. We also need to support our African American owned businesses and see that they not only survive but thrive. We need to also teach our community ways to go from living from paycheck to paycheck to building wealth. Also, educating our community on what you need to know before you buy a house and how to maintain your home once you own it.
Crime and Safety
We must develop a comprehensive community-policing program to address crime and blight in our communities, and to train our neighborhood associations how to feel safe in reporting crime that takes place without fearing any consequences.
It is important that we be proactive when it comes to issues that affect our health. Take a strong stand against cancer and other preventable diseases and to encourage our brothers to go to the doctor when they feel the first sign of pain. To take a more active role in educating our people about HIV/AIDS and the ways that it can be avoided and treated. We must begin to train our youth about the importance of the role that they must play in taking an active role in changing and caring for their community. Hopefully, that was not too long but I am very passionate about these things.
DSB: In today's social and political climate, speak to the relevance of the NAACP.
CT: The NAACP is as relevant today as at any time in the past. If you watch closely it seems like things are slowly rolling back to the time prior to the Civil Rights Movement. Dr. King had a dream, but we must have a plan to address the current problems that face our community. We must speak a message to our community, both young and old, that relates to the current situation of our people.
DSB: In college, I was an officer in NAACP but I have been inactive since graduating. What should the NAACP be doing to get people like me back active?
CT: First, we must go where people like you are. We must speak the language that will help our generation to see the condition that our community is in and also ask for their God-given talents and gifts to be used to serve the people. Remind them of the things that caused them to get involved in the past.
DSB: What would the Dallas NAACP be doing under your leadership that it is not currently doing?
CT: Actively addressing the issues that face our community within the city of Dallas. Recently, Ann Lott, the President and CEO of the Dallas Housing Authority, was set to be fired by the Board of Commissioners. As elected officials and community leaders stood with and on behalf of Mrs. Lott, the NAACP should have been right there leading the charge. Fortunately, not only will she get to keep her job, but also Mayor Laura Miller is suggesting that she gets a contract extension.We have to be proactive about setting an agenda that we want addressed and letting those in office know that we will hold them accountable. Also, having the will to do what we need to do for ourselves and not depend or wait for others to do it. We’ve got to take responsibility for our community and live daily by the philosophy, "if it is to be, it is up to me."
DSB: Thanks Casey
CT: Thank you, Shawn. Remember: This Saturday come out and vote Casey Thomas for NAACP President. "A New Vision for A New Era."