Thursday, October 06, 2005

Lipscomb blasts `new leadership' He says whites using blacks to cause rift

Lipscomb blasts `new leadership' He says whites using blacks to cause rift
David Jackson Staff Writer of The Dallas Morning News THE DALLAS MORNING NEWS (DAL)
Published: MAY 8, 1991

City Council member Al Lipscomb criticized what he called a "new leadership' of blacks Tuesday, saying its members were being used by the white business establishment to divide Dallas minorities. Mr. Lipscomb singled out a group of minority lawyers and businesspeople who met with the U.S. Justice Department to oppose the 10-4-1 City Council election plan. Some of those people later helped organize a "unity rally' April 24 at City Hall. Mr. Lipscomb said organizers did not consult him or Deputy Mayor Pro Tem Diane Ragsdale, the council's only two minority members. Nor did they talk to Marvin Crenshaw or Roy Williams, the black plaintiffs in the voting rights lawsuit against the city, Mr. Lipscomb said. "The organizers called it a unity rally but only wanted to have a certain segment of the black community,' Mr. Lipscomb said during the Dallas Community Leadership Luncheon at St. Luke Community United Methodist Church.
He said the "new leadership' was helping the white business establishment paint black elected officials -- including himself, Ms. Ragsdale and County Commissioner John Wiley Price -- as "radicals.' "United we stand, divided we fall,' Mr. Lipscomb said. The minority lawyers who met with the Justice Department and helped organize the rally said whites had nothing to do with those efforts. The lawyers said they were not trying to slight anyone and wanted only to inject new voices into the successful fight against 10-4-1. One of those lawyers is Kevin Wiggins, a Dallas Park Board member. He said the delegation never really thought about consulting the minority council members or plaintiffs because they already were so involved in the lawsuit. "I guess we knew that Marvin and Roy had already talked to the Justice Department, and I supposed Diane and Al had also,' Mr. Wiggins said. "This was really an attempt to present some different voices.' Cheryl Wattley, another lawyer who met with Justice Department officials, said that instead of criticizing each other, minorities should celebrate the department's decision Monday to reject 10-4-1. - The department ruled that the city's 10-4-1 proposal -- calling for electing 10 City Council members by district, four by regional quadrant and the mayor citywide -- was unfair to blacks and Hispanics.

Many minorities now are urging the City Council to settle the lawsuit with a 14-1 plan, calling for election of 14 council members by districts and the mayor citywide. "I think as a community we should be celebrating the ruling of the Justice Department and that 14-1 appears to be the plan the city will have to adopt,' Ms. Wattley said.

After the luncheon, Mr. Lipscomb softened his rhetoric. He said it was an issue of communication and protocol, not division among blacks. "I think after today that won't happen anymore,' Mr. Lipscomb said. "This is trivial compared with the big picture' of minority voting rights.

During his speech, Mr. Lipscomb noted that one member of the new leadership mentioned the encouragement of City Council member Harriet Miers. "It wasn't necessary, they contend, to seek advice from the African-American plaintiffs or council persons,' Mr. Lipscomb said. "After all, they had been briefed by Anglo attorneys and given a mandate from an Anglo council person.' Ms. Miers said her call last month for more minority involvement in the voting rights lawsuit was not directed at any one person or group. "I urged the entire minority community to come forward and be heard on it,' she said. "I didn't urge just one segment.' Mr. Price said Mr. Lipscomb's remarks did not reflect a division between black political and business leaders. "I th ink what he's saying is there are Anglos in this community trying to validate what they see as the African-American business leadership,' Mr. Price said. "What we're saying is that it's OK to have African-American business leadership, but when it comes t o political leadership you've got to go to our elected officials.' Kenneth Lowe, a businessman who was part of the delegation to the Justice Department, said this kind of debate is healthy for any community. "Any differences we've got, we can take care o f,' Mr. Lowe said.

The Rev. Zan Holmes, pastor of St. Luke, spoke privately with Mr. Lipscomb after his speech. Mr. Holmes said later that the issues are unity and communication among minorities.

PHOTO: Al Lipscomb LOCATION: Lipscomb, Al.

1991 Copyright The Dallas Morning News Company


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