We Went to Visit Al Lipscomb at Hall of State and Ran Into The Man Who's Mayor Till Monday

al lipscomb.jpg
Photos by Leslie Minora
Visitors pay their respects to local civil rights activist, Al Lipscomb.
​Being fairly new to town, I'm learning my Dallas history little by little. Yesterday was a good step: On the way home I stopped by the Hall of State at Fair Park, where Al Lipscomb is resting comfortably till this evening's public wake, which begins at 6 p.m., and tomorrow's memorial service at Friendship-West Baptist Church, which starts at 11 a.m. There, I ran into state Rep. Helen Giddings and Mayor Dwaine Caraway.

"He's a warrior at rest," Caraway said, standing not far from the open casket of the civil-rights activist and council member who died Saturday at 86. "He has certainly opened up many doors, doors that I find myself walking through today."

The flags at Dallas City Hall are flying at half-mast till the end of the day. Caraway said he would "absolutely not" have had the opportunity to become mayor without the groundwork laid by Lipscomb. Of Lipscomb's reputation as a "firebrand," as Jim put it, Caraway said: "The fact that folks might not have understood his style at those times, that was the style that was necessary. ... During those times he had no choice to be heard. Martin Luther King did marches, and Al Lipscomb raised hell. He'll be gravely missed."

Giddings said Lipscomb's activism went deeper than tenacity, describing him as a "very well thought out person." She said: "He taught me a great deal. He was really a giant."

By late afternoon, the influx of people steaming into Hall of State was testament to Lipscomb's impact. Visitors spent long minutes standing in front of the casket, silent.

Alfredia Strhan was among the procession walking across the scorching Fair Park parking lot to make her way inside. "I've got to get up here to see brother Al," the West Dallas resident said, recounting how she's gotten to know Lipscomb at community events throughout the years. She said he "opened doors that would have been closed to us still." She was very fond of Lipscomb: "He was just a sweet person."

Carl Ramirez, who was in the West Dallas Lions Club with Lipscomb in the '70s, volunteered as an usher. He said Lipscomb passed along a powerful legacy: "Stand up for those who cannot defend themselves, speak for those who do not know how to speak, and do what is right."

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18 comments
Drstrangelove
Drstrangelove

It is ironic that Al Lipscomb fought for civil rights for the Americans of African descent, while exalting the Ankh, the symbol of the Egyptians that enslaved the Hebrews.

Joyce Foreman
Joyce Foreman

Thank you Mr. Lipscomb for making Dallas a better city of all of its citizens.

Jmwpixley57
Jmwpixley57

From all the comments about the desceased.....lets just say you can do what ever you want in politics good, bad whatever and still get a publicly funded send-off.    Does being African-American give one a pass if they commit wrongs?

demon_lion
demon_lion

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Preti
Preti

There was a time when you could not be a politician or hold any office unless you were a member of the Klu Klux Klan.  There are still dishonest factions today.  Prosecuting a black politician is just a means of removing an opponent from office.  Politicians of other persuasions have done and are doing more serious crimes and offenses as a normal function of office. Their illegal actions are known, noticed, and appreciated, but not prosecuted by their allies.     

BMO
BMO

RIP Al. 

fitzgerald
fitzgerald

Crooks and saints all have their number called.  To some Lipscomb was a crook and to others he was a saint.  Nevertheless, his number was called and the good Lord can sort out the rest.

MattL1
MattL1

I never knew the man, but I'm guessing, like most people, he was neither as evil as his detractors say nor as saintly as his supporters claim.  

Chris Danger
Chris Danger

It seems when people die, their negatives seem to be buried with them...Al was a slick crook throughout his life and people seem to forget about all the trouble he brought upon this city in the 80's and 90's. 

As an aside: It makes me sick when people try to compare him or other "local leaders" as civil rights leaders, as they lacked both the drive and common decency people such as Vernon Johns, MLK and Rosa Parks had when attempting to change the south for the better. You never heard of people like Al sitting in at a lunch counter in protest or going to mississippi on a freedom ride. If Lipscomb was really anything, He was Stokely Carmichael light, which is to say he talked a big game of rage, but never backed it up..at the end, he was an old man who was on the take and we all knew it...

Maybe in his death, a new generation of young people will rise and actually bring a real and honest change for their neighborhoods, thats my wish at least..

Clancey
Clancey

Don't leave out the Dairy.  Joke around City Hall was Al had to call Schwepps to see how he was to vote.I don't know if it ever became public,  Annette Strauss was funding Al when they were on the Council.  Wasn't all that much,  couple hundred here and there.  Media wasn't as aggressive back then,  we all knew about it,  as we did Schwepps and the taxi service. 

Heywood U Buzzoff
Heywood U Buzzoff

"Stand up for those who cannot defend themselves, speak for those who do not know how to speak, and do what is right."

Take cab money for those who can not take bribes.

Ajb2you
Ajb2you

Never aMore endearing, committed human being to serve in Dallas. He saved Dallas from burning in the 60's when every other major city did so in the midst of the civil rights struggle. He wanted only the same rights FOR ALL and fought the good fight, the right fight, at a time when doing so was to one's detriment. I knew him during good times and bad and consider myself blessed and forever changed because of who he was and the selfless path he chose to blaze for all of us that had yet to be heard. Rest in peace Al, you are long overdue.

Montemalone
Montemalone

We still have JWP. Maybe he'll put on his bikini again someday and lead a march against whitey, before we go to hell.

G_David
G_David

I believe you mean Schepps, not the British ginger ale giant.

Nnamdi
Nnamdi

Admit it, you are scared of a Strong African American Man. Rest In Peace, Brotha AL!!!

Dee
Dee

Unfortunately, the only negative thing you can say is take cab money for those who cannot takes bribes.  How many others  have taken bribes, and have become unmentionable. People to whom live in the west dallas community are victims of bribes that by those to whom were empowered to protect the lives of all people, yet allowed industries to run at their own will, not being mindful of the detrimental  cost of  lives, suffering to this dateirrepairable and irreversal damage from multiple chemical exposure.  You speak about bribes, think about those to whom are victims of environmental racism and to whoms lives have been affected without the option of having a choice.

G_David
G_David

Strong, except for his weakness when it came to accepting bribes.  That's the worst kind of weak, when your constituents have put their faith in you.

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