Alert/Update: U.S. Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson to hold townhall on Dallas postal operations Monday moderated by Shawn P.

Congresswoman Eddie Bernice Johnson will hold a townhall meeting on Monday August 24th regarding the Dallas Main Post Office and Distribution Center.  A few weeks ago we reacted here to rumors that the Dallas Main Post Office was closing.

While rumors of the Post Office’s demise were a bit exaggerated, the reality of moving a bulk of the center’s operations away from Dallas Main is serious.  A study by the U.S. Postal Service recommended the transfer of mail processing operations from the Dallas Main Post Office to Coppell, TX.

Those scheduled to speak at the meeting include:

Congresswoman Eddie Bernice Johnson

Dallas Mayor Tom Leppert

The Honorable Royce West

Mr. Tim Vierling, Senior Plant Manager Dallas Post Officee

Congresswoman Johnson and her staff requested that I serve as moderator of the meeting that is sure to bring questions and concerns from residents, union members, government officials and the like.   The meeting will be held at Dallas City Hall – City Council Chambers and begin at 6:00 p.m.

What: Congresswoman Eddie Bernice Johnson Townhall on Postal Operations

Date: Monday, August 24, 2009

Time: 6:00 PM

Location: Dallas City Hall, City Council Chambers
Room 6 E North, 1500 Marilla Dr., Dallas, TX 75201

AUDIO: Shawn on 570 KLIF with Jeff Bolton discussing violent crimes in Dallas

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Shawn P. and Jeff Bolton

Many thanks to Jeff Bolton and Producer Clint Granberry for having me on their program (early) Wednesday morning. The discussion centered around violent crime statistics released by the Dallas Police Department detailing the crime “hot spots” in the city.

Also thanks to Andrew Harvey with the Dallas Police Department for sharing those statistics to Dallas South. I’m looking forward to working more with Mr. Harvey and DPD Public Relations in the future.

Wanna hear it? Hear it goes.

Part One – February 4th with Jeff Bolton

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Part Two – February 5th interview with Jeff Bolton

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Shawn Williams in January Ebony Magazine Collector’s Edition

I’m thankful each time that someone feels that my words are worthy of print. But I consider it an honor and a privilege to have been quoted in this month’s collector’s edition of Ebony Magazine. It’s a marvelous issue with President-Elect Barack Obama on the cover.

I appear in a section of the January edition under the headline “At Last, Election Day:The Power of One Man one One Vote.” Different cities are detailed for their reaction to Obama’s election.

This is from Page 42:

Dallas, Texas

At Friendship-West Baptist Church, the congregation opened the doors and welcomed about 6,000 people. Throughout the evening, the crowd, many weiring Obama T-Shirts, watched the election returns on huge screens in the sanctuary and in smaller rooms in the church.

Shawn P. Williams, one of the organizers of the election-night event, says Obama helped fuel a renewed social consciousness in Black America. “Obama tapped into the growing online movement of African-Americans who already mobilized for civil rights issues such as the incident with radio broadcaster Don Imus and Rutgers University women’s basketball team, along with the Jena Six protest in Louisiana,” Williams said. “When Sen. Barack Obama came along with his campaign, we were already mobilized. He took what we had already established and moved it to a different arena.”

Many thanks to Judy Ellis Howard who conducted the interview and wrote the Ebony article. Go out and pick up this wonderful piece of history.

Shawn Williams: Outsiders more than meddlesome intruders

Here’s the text of a column that I wrote which appeared in the Paris News on Wednesday. This is more follow up to the meeting with the Department of Justice held their last Thursday.

“Wow…we didn’t even speak.”

That was one of the first things I heard in response to the Community Wide Dialogue on Race Relations hosted by the Diversity Task Force and the Paris Chapter of the NAACP.

Before last week, I had never heard of the U.S. Department of Justice’s Community Relations Services Office, which presided over the meeting held at Calvary Methodist Church. I doubt that very many Parisians had heard of them either, but that didn’t stop folks from showing up in droves to see what all of the hubbub was about.

The 90 in attendance were a testament to the hard work put in by the Diversity Task Force and other interested parties.

But I had the sense that the citizens who decided to drive down Lamar for the meeting had a different idea of how things would go that Thursday night. Carmelita Pope Freeman, Regional Director at the Community Relations Service office in Dallas, directed what amounted to a two-hour brainstorming session. There is no doubt that many of the meeting attendees were busting at the seams for a chance to have their say. I understand that time is to come later.

There were so many groups and interests represented that night that I was tempted to ask the people at my table to start a new organization on the spot. We could have been called Seven for Change, or Paris People with a Purpose. That wouldn’t have been much different than some of the groups who sounded like they had just formed in the Calvary parking lot.

On an evening that was actually designed for very little dialogue, one sentiment within the room did find its way into the conversation. There is a group of Paris residents that are tired of outsiders coming in to town and meddling in local affairs.

This point was visually illustrated by a sheet of paper floating around that had the picture of a black man dressed in black gear — presumably a member of the New Black Panther Party — with a red circle around him and a red cross marked through it.

This document didn’t give the impression of people looking to find common ground on these difficult issues. It merely reinforces the image that so many citizens are fighting hard to erase.

Upon my return home the following Saturday, I was reminded of what’s at stake for the City of Paris. While visiting with members of the men’s ministry at my church, I discussed with them the meeting that I had attended in my hometown.

“I was supposed to look at a car down in Paris,” one of the gentlemen said, “but I didn’t want to have to go down there at night.” To my dismay, he expressed his idea of Paris as a place not welcoming to African-Americans. Though some folks may resist outside influences on city matters, what about outside dollars for the city coffers?

It’s not just about black, white, or brown; it’s also about green, as in dollars. This is another factor in the efforts that have been put forth by the Diversity Task Force.

But in the end, Ms. Freeman and conciliation specialist David Penland gave Paris just what is needed in this critical time in the city’s history: a road map that should eventually lead to a reduction of racial tensions that have gripped the town during the past 18-plus months.

Even the ground rules that they put in place for the next town hall forum — three minute time limit for each speaker, respecting all speakers by avoiding interruptions — are an important part of what is sure to be an emotionally charged event. And at the end of the road is the potential for Congress to invest in the children, who were on the minds of many that night.

Yes, the people of Paris are responsible for their own fate and are charged with turning this current conflict into a benefit. But I hope the rhetoric towards out-of-towners, who sacrifice their time and money to lend a helping hand, is toned down a little. Believe it or not, there are a few decent ideas that exist outside Loop 286.

Shawn Williams appearances on KLIF (Jeff Bolton) and NBC 5

Still trying catch up on some stuff from the DNC Convention, it will probably take me the rest of the month to get all of the content out.  The above is part of an interview I did with Jeff Bolton on KLIF 570.  Thanks to Jeff and Clint Granberry for asking me to be on, I look forward to my next segment.

Also click here to view a really nice report NBC 5’s Ken Kalthoff did on my preparation for the trip.  

Father Michael Pfleger, America’s scapegoat is loved by his community

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When Father Michael Pfleger called in to the Roland S. Martin show at 7 a.m. on Friday morning, at least I knew he was awake. I gave dialed him up and asked if I could drop by and visit with him after I left WVON. Thanks to GPS (I call her GiGi) it was an easy trip down to 87th.

welcome.jpgI felt welcome from the moment I pulled up in front of the Faith Community of St. Sabina. I didn’t know that Father Pfleger had resumed his duties at the parish until our Chicago family members made us aware of the fact earlier in the week. You may remember me recounting the “temporary leave of absence” Cardinal George had placed on Father Pfleger a few weeks ago.

I went in fully intending it to be a personal visit to check in on how the Father was doing since all of the media and political scapegoating that had taken place over the last few weeks. The last thing that I want to do is throw gasoline on America’s race baiting fire, but a story unfolded that I had to share with the Dallas South family.

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After a few minutes of personal discussion, Father Pfleger took me into the “Upper Church” the beautiful cathedral built on Chicago’s south side in 1933. After that, we traveled downstairs where kids from the predominantly black (I saw three white faces in my visit to the southside – Pfleger was the only male) neighborhood were being trained for a summer work program. In all, St. Sabina is preparing 150 young people to work in business around the community.

We then went on a walking tour, where I was able to see Christianity in action – not in rhetoric as is often the case in this country. I don’t have time to go into all of the programs and initiatives St. Sabina has launched, but here are a few.

  • St. Sabina/Catholic Charities Social Services Center addressing basic social and psychological needs of families and individuals by providing information and referral linkages to counseling, community casework, shelter services, transitional housing, senior housing, nursing home and in-home care services.
  • St. Sabina Academy, a grade school serving students from pre-kindergarten through eighth grade. The faculty and administration believe that God has a purpose for every child’s life and incorporates the gospel of Jesus Christ and African values in their curriculum.

bakery.jpgThis doesn’t even include seed businesses like Perfect Peace Cafe and Bakery that St. Sabina has planted on the blocks surrounding the church. They have partnered with entrepreneurs to establish restaurants and clothing stores in the neighborhood, as well as companies like Walgreens. Speaking of partnerships, Chicago Mayor Richard Daley has worked with Pfleger and St. Sabina to help keep the community safe and helped them to build a park that is attached to the Elders Village.

The reason I’m really writing this post is to convey the love that the community showed both of us in the hour that we walked the streets. Father Pfleger had only been reinstated about a week ago, so many people didn’t know he was “back” (he rented and apartment down the street during his leave). It started as people -actually every one of them- acknowledging and speaking to us as he passed. It’s not hard to recognize the only white male in the ward.

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But as we continued up and down 87th, the waves turned to handshakes and the handshakes turned to hugs. “I didn’t know you were back,” said one man. “We support you Father,” said another. “You were right,” said a woman as she hugged and kissed him on the cheek. This was the scene for the entire hour,

A number of cars honked as they rolled through. One man stopped his car in the middle of the street to give Father Pfleger a shout out. When he approached the vehicle, the man and his sons all stuck their fists out the window to give him a bump. My only experience with Father Pfleger had been in Dallas, so to see how he is loved and embraced by his community while not surprising was still awesome to witness first hand.

I didn’t tell Father Pfleger that I would be posting this and while I haven’t shared any of the details of our conversation it still feels a little weird. Regardless of what America may think, I felt it important that those who visit this site see what the media refuses to report in their attempted character assassination on one of God’s true soldiers.

I feel privileged that the good Father would take a moment of his busy time to spend with a fella like me. May God Bless Father Michael Pfleger and the awesome work he is doing on the south side of Chicago.

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