Alendra Lyons had not lived in South Dallas since 1980, when she graduated from Skyline High School. She had moved all over the city, landing, for a while, in Greenway Parks, the verdant neighborhood bordering the Park Cities. Lyons, now 58, went home because she needed a place to lay her head for a while.
And she discovered, yes, the neighborhood of her childhood had become broken, blighted. The streets, once quiet, had been claimed by sellers of drugs and makers of violence; the houses, too, especially the ones with boards for windows and holes for roofs. But she moved home anyway, because she refused to surrender her neighborhood to the bad people who made it a bad place.
And never once did she blame the police who drive past but seldom through here, unless someone has dialed 911. Nor did she fault City Hall, which continues to act shocked that its decades of racist policies created poverty and crime and once again demands that the police fix what it first broke. Nor did she blame the property owners who let their rent houses and old churches grow shabby, tumbledown.
Instead, she formed the neighborhood crime watch. She became president of the nascent Mill City Community Association. And she demanded that the people who live in Mill City take care of Mill City, so called because of the cotton mills that operated 120 years ago in this neighborhood.
“You live in that community,” Lyons said as we sat at the kitchen table in that house on Collins. “Not the houses, not the trees. It’s you. And if any change is going to happen, you have to be the one to be the driving force of making those changes.”
Courtesy of Dallas Morning News. See article at hppres.org/neighborhood-impact