Creating Opportunities at the Community Level
During Black History Month, we acknowledge and pay tribute to the generations of triumphant people who changed the course of history. Those of the past whose contributions we still cherish today; and those of the present whose contributions will continue to pave the way for the future.
It is our pleasure to have a history-maker in our midst. In Desiree Powell, there’s heart, tenacity, and vision that’s worthy of praise. We’ve invited her to share her personal anecdotes regarding Black History Month as well as her thoughts concerning black history on the community level.
My name is Desiree` “Dee” Powell and I’m an urban planner from Arlington! I’ve been doing work, finding solace, and running the food park in South Dallas since May 2021 and couldn’t be more grateful for the way the community has accepted me.
From the viewpoint of how much Black history exists in South Dallas I think it’s extremely important to commemorate Black history during and after February. Black history means a lot to me since I was a kid – I went to a school that planned activities and programs for every day of the month that allowed us to learn more about who we are, what we’ve accomplished, and make it fun. It was from a program we did in 2nd grade that I learned about Black inventors, Black educators, and the like outside of Dr. King. That’s a big reason why Black history month is major at the community level; understanding where we come from is the only way we can gather, strategize, and mobilize towards where we’re headed. Same as incorporating Black history into community and neighborhood level planning – not understanding the history, the ugly times, the great times, the policy that made things hard, and so on makes it nearly impossible to plan with intention of preserving Black history. Rather than planning for the “idea” of Black history which tends to highlight the most notable Black figures with little to no mention of the community level heroes that made a way for us to even celebrate Black history month in this way!
I consider Black history as one of the defining factors of my purpose in my career. I’ve listened to my grandma talk about life during segregation, Jim Crow, and migrating to the South from the North along with being able to see the home my great grandmother was a house slave before becoming a housekeeper. For me, it’s being able to share space, learn from, and be inspired by Black folks that were fighting the good fight for me to even do what I do without thinking if they’d be remembered as part of Black history month one day. They were creating Black history without even knowing how much of a legacy they’d be leaving behind to continue their work. I believe this will/has been pouring the foundation for the future of Black History Month as a celebration in February but also providing an ongoing appreciation for the history that’s still being written.
Dee’s people-centered work has already started to make its stamp on the community. Sunny South Dallas Food Park, an incubator space that cultivates Black- (and other minority) owned businesses, has had incredible turnouts and embraces the culture in the heart of Dallas. With the next event on March 26, 2023, you’ll want to mark you calendars! You won’t want to miss black history in the making.
Connect with Dee:
Instagram: @thedee_p @sunnysouthdallasfoodpark
LinkedIn: Desiree ‘Dee’ Powell
Facebook: Desiree ‘Dee’ Powell Sunny South Dallas Food Park