The local attorney who filed the federal lawsuits to integrate the Mansfield and Fort Worth school districts called for unity and a continued fight against racism at Friday’s Martin Luther King Jr. Holiday Celebration.
“In this nation, we still have a problem with skin color,” said former district judge L. Clifford Davis. “The color black is cherished everywhere but on the skin of a human being. Black cars are admired, most often businessmen dress in dark coloring. … But when it comes to black on the skin of a human being, black is simultaneous in this nation with some form of subordination or rejection.”
Davis, the speaker at the city’s 30th annual MLK celebration at Fort Worth’s City Hall, questioned the nation’s progress on racial issues, citing the recent controversial police incidents in Ferguson, Mo, and New York City, where black men were killed in separate incidents by police officers.
Davis, 90, recalled the time in his youth when members of the Ku Klux Klan were also policemen, judges and attorneys.
“Too often that is true today,” Davis said.
Davis called on the crowd of about 100 to participate in government, vote, peacefully protest injustice and advocate for the education system.
“When you review the life of Dr. King, he didn’t say ‘They ought to do.’ He, instead, was out there doing things that he thought ought to be done,” Davis said.
Davis opened one of the first African-American law offices in Fort Worth. The L. Clifford Davis Elementary School in Fort Worth is named for him, and he served as a senior district judge for Tarrant County from 1994 to 2003.
Perry Williams, an employee in the Fort Worth Water Department for 33 years, has been coming to the annual celebration, put on by the city’s Martin Luther King, Jr./Juneteenth Committee, since it started.
“There have been a lot of changes, but there are still challenges,” said Williams, 52. “We are very thankful that through the work of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.. and many more leaders of all ethnic groups, that Fort Worth is moving in the right direction.”
Williams, who said he has dealt with racism personally, said there “needs to be a continued coming to the table and putting every need on the table.”
“Our city is growing and so the needs change daily. So I think these kind of events bring awareness and are the kinds of things that helped them to know how to address our needs,” Williams said.
King was assassinated April 4, 1968, in Memphis.
Caty Hirst, 817-390-7984