The Mesquite NAACP and city of Mesquite invited people from the community to speak on Martin Luther King Jr. Day through a virtual event.
In previous years, the Mesquite NAACP organized a parade and spoke of their personal camaraderie to the community. Due to the pandemic, the parade was not included in the celebrations, but the camaraderie speeches and performances were still scheduled. Performers ranged from singers, dancers, and guest speakers from state and local officials. There were also awards given to five recipients during the celebrations.
“We gave the community service awards for their selflessness activities in our community for having stepped up and used the pandemic to help people out,” said Henry Brown of the NAACP Mesquite Chapter.
Following George Floyd’s death, the Mesquite NAACP responded against police holding positions that would restrict normal breathing and held a press conference with the city officials about the matter. They also talked to lawmakers and state representatives in local cities about the criminal justice changes. With the momentum of support, a bill was sent to the governor for review.
“It's a hot topic in Texas how they are going to change and ratify and implement new policies to make sure all citizens are safe and not murdered just because of the color of their skin,” Brown said. “We did jump off of that press conference and went from there. We’ve been building a lot of momentum since then.”
During this time, the Mesquite NAACP chapter also recognized the changes that were needed in the Mesquite community. The African American community leaders met with the city about changes that included more African American positions of authority, local criminal justice reform and a citizens review board.
Brown recognized Mayor Bruce Archer’s efforts, who denounced racism and promoted Detra Hill as the first female and first African American municipal judge in Mesquite. Brown was also given the role of chief advisor for minority concerns and equity issues.
“Mayor Archer was so heroic, and he put together a resolution where the city of Mesquite denounced racism and city practices and filed to open up the doors for people of color and said that black lives matter,” Brown said. “We were very proud that the city put together a resolution to denounce racism.”
In the new year, the Mesquite NAACP will continue to work in collaboration with the city to open up more doors and opportunities. There will also be a summit in February where promoting of Black businesses will be discussed and how the city can help support them. The chapter and the city are collaborating on how to bring the businesses to the Mesquite Chamber of Commerce and support them through the pandemic.
“I’m excited to be part of this renaissance out in Mesquite. I really do feel like Mesquite is moving in the right direction,” Brown said. “We may have naysayers but at the same time we are moving in the right direction and things are looking very promising for the minority community as long as we can keep doing it collaboratively.”