Anthony Bond, founder of the Irving chapter of the NAACP, looked at what was happening in South Dallas, at the Diamond Shamrock Kwik Stop on Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard, and decided: Enough's enough. Those protests at the Korean-owned convenience store had to stop, as did calls for its owner Thomas Pak to sell out and move on. So he made a call: to the United States Department of Justice, asking the feds to dispatch to Dallas one of its Community Relations Service representatives charged with "addressing tension associated with allegations of discrimination on the basis of race, color, and national origin." Says Bond, who has a longstanding relationship with that arm of Justice, "I know they specialize in crisis mediation in minority communities. I've had success with them before on many occasions." This, he hoped, would be another.
Which is why on Tuesday several leaders who once participated in the protests -- among them Rev. Ronald Wright and his brother Donald, Rev. Peter Johnson, Rev. Marion Barnett and Curtis Wilbert -- sat down with local Korean-American leaders and the Justice Department's mediator to discuss how to put this matter to rest once and for all. It took hours of talking, but finally late yesterday they reached a resolution. Donald Wright tells Unfair Park that this accord -- reached with the input of Korean Society of Dallas veep Ted Kim, Korean American Coalition chair Chong Choe and community leader Charles Pak -- will be formally announced at a press conference tomorrow at noon.
Organizers, though, are concerned that Nation of Islam Student Minister Jeffery Muhammad and Dallas NAACP President Dr. Juanita Wallace, both of whom have vowed not to stop their protests at the Shamrock, may try to interfere with the proceedings. Which is no surprise: The two are on the outs with black leaders who've been working behind the scenes to end this long-simmering dispute, which is based, in part, on half-truths and exaggerations. And now, say those seeking peace, Wallace is facing dismissal from her post as local NAACP president.
Wallace and Muhammed, says Bond, are scheduled to meet with the DOJ's mediator tomorrow, and "if Dr. Wallace does not come to the reconciliation table after she meets with the Justice Department, she will be suspended, possibly for life, from the NAACP," Bond tells Unfair Park. Repeated attempts to reach Wallace and Muhammed have gone unanswered, but according to Bond, she is refusing to meet with the feds' negotiator without her attorney present, and Muhammad refuses to meet without Wallace.
Donald Wright says Bob Lydia, a NAACP National Board member and former president of the Dallas chapter, is scheduled to attend tomorrow's press conference as well. "And he's going to tell everyone that the NAACP has nothing to do with the protests," Wright says.
This isn't the first time in recent months national NAACP has received complaints about Wallace: Back in November, Dallas ISD board president Lew Blackburn and trustee Bernadette Nutall threatened legal action after she accused the two of conspiring with Deion Sanders to hand over H.S. Thompson for one of his charter schools. Wallace made her allegations during a board meeting -- without any proof whatsoever. The trustees told national she needed to apologize or risk being hit with a slander suit.
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As you no doubt recall, Wallace and Muhammad attended that early February meeting during which Mayor Mike Rawlings told everyone involved to cut this out, that the ongoing protests were doing little more than creating "schisms and divisions that are ultimately unhealthy and destructive to communities." To which Muhammed responded by standing up and telling Korean business owners, "You are now just the next person in a line of people who have come to the black community and taken advantage of people who have been destroyed in this country."
Says Bond, "Wallace has ethically backed herself into a corner" by continuing to align herself with Muhammad and the Nation of Islam. "The main mission of the NAACP is to fight and eliminate racial discrimination of any form, whoever is being discriminated against. So why would we turn around and not fight for anybody?"
The protest, he says, comes at an inopportune time, because the NAACP is trying to strengthen national ties with the Korean community as the 20th anniversary of the Los Angeles Koreatown riots approaches. And, more pragmatically, say some black leaders, the protests are just bad for business. They point to Rawlings's GrowSouth campaign and say that if these racially charged protests continue much longer, the mayor could be hard-pressed to find investors willing to invest money into a community lacking some of the bare-bones essentials, such as decent grocery stores.
Donald Wright declines to release the exact conditions of the Shamrock ceasefire until the press conference. All he will say, for now, is this: "It's gonna work out all right, man."