DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – A combination of changing Dallas county demographics, and laws mandating single member districts, helped secure John Wiley Price a seat on the Commissioners Court. And according to political watchers, he has held that seat for three decades by doggedly fighting for his constituents, on battlegrounds not limited to county government.
“One of the reasons that John seems rare and out of place, is there are very few people who are like him,” said Vincent Lewis Hall. “A lot of people in Dallas go along to get along and that’s not who he is.”
When Price turned his political office into a bully pulpit for the poor and powerless, Hall was often right by his side as he protested and agitated the Dallas power structure over perceived injustices during the 1980s and 90s.
“We went from the police department to the fire department, to a few people’s homes,” added Hall with a chuckle, “we did it all. We affected change, so for me, it’s very valuable. It’s not one of those things that I carry around; but, I’m very proud of the fact that we did what we did when we did it.”
Price and his supporters, varied and often summoned with nothing more complicated than directing where and when, picketed DISD. The Dallas Morning News and local television stations were targeted by protestors demanding opportunities for minorities. Price took on Dallas Police over allegations of unchecked brutality. And although his angry public outbursts often grabbed the headlines, Hall says he’s saddened that the rest of the story is seldom told.
“They get all of the vitriol and hyperbole that comes out of the media; but, they don’t know about all of the other small things John does and how he affects people in so many different industries. They’re not out for county contracts. They’re not out for anything. They just need some help.”
Supporters say Price is unapologetic and unwavering in what he believes, and they believe that often makes him a target.
Hall says, “He is not a safe Negro, and I hope it’s okay to say that, and that causes problems. And Dallas has been rough on anybody who is progressive and willing to say what they believe. But, it’s especially hard if you’re an African American male.”
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