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DALLAS (CBS11) – At 62, Ron Kirk shows no signs of slowing down.
“I’m a partner with Texas Capital Partners that’s looking to build the high speed rail between Dallas and Houston,” said Kirk. “I’m involved in a number of non-profit activities, as I’ve always been. I’m a trustee at my alma mater, Austin College and the University of Texas Law School. I like to think I haven’t peaked at 62. I’ve got more to give.”
His journey started early in life.
“I grew up in a segregated school,” Kirk recounted. “My parents weren’t allowed to attend the university that gave me my law degree. When I raised my hand and took the oath of office as Secretary of State of Texas, I looked out over the audience that included my mother and a community of people that raised me that were not allowed to vote.”
In 1995, Ron Kirk became the first African-American mayor of Dallas. He points to successes like the growing arts district and the Calatrava bridges linking areas like west Dallas and Trinity Groves to an explosion of growth.
“I look at our city and it makes me proud of some of the seeds that we planted when I was mayor. To throw away some of the biases about what we thought leaders looked like; what we thought a city should look like,” Kirk said.
After a failed U.S. Senate campaign, he answered the call from President Obama and was confirmed as the U.S. Trade Representative.
“You can’t help but be humbled by the reality of how richly we live in this country versus the rest of the world,” Kirk said about serving in that capacity.
A portion of his work now hangs on the wall at Gibson, Dunn and Crutcher Law Firm in Dallas where Kirk is employed. There are copies of three trade agreements he orchestrated between the U.S. and Colombia, Panama and South Korea.
As the former mayor enters the next phase of his life, outside of public office, he’s focusing on helping Dallas and Texas embrace the next generation.
“That is the foundation for building, not only a good city that can govern itself but, a prosperous city,” said Kirk. “Because we’ve got to give every child born here the opportunity to do the same thing I did. And that’s, one, rely on your faith, invest in your education and then see how far your talents will take you.”
CBS11 asked Kirk if he wanted to get back into politics. He laughed and said, ‘no.’ His mission now is to encourage the next generation.
WEB EXTRA – Ron Kirk on Black History Month
WEB EXTRA – Ron Kirk on his past and present
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