Bill Cosby Will Deliver the Commencement Address at Paul Quinn College (Updated)

Six years ago, wooing a high-profile commencement speaker was the last thing on Paul Quinn College's to-do list. The southern Dallas school, the city's only historically black college, was in disrepair, physically and academically, after years of mismanagement. With its accreditation set to be revoked, the entire institution was about to collapse.

What happened next was detailed in Greg Howard's cover story last year. The Cliff Notes version is that Michael Sorrell, a Chicago-born, Duke-trained lawyer, took the job as president and set about resurrecting the school.

His approach was unconventional, a self-conscious effort to jolt the school's mostly black and Hispanic students out of an educational malaise. That's why he turned the football field into a working farm, banned pork from campus, and helped organized protests against the city's plan to dump trash nearby.

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Everything You Need to Know About the Bush Center/Library/Theater/Museum/Thing

Categories: Events

Journalists across the globe have been busy churning out copy about the looming Thursday dedication of the Bush Presidential Center at SMU. Some of the pieces wrestle with the Bush legacy, some describe the center itself. Others explore the practical effect that a massive ceremony featuring five presidents and innumerable other dignitaries will have on your commute.

We've mostly avoided the coverage in favor of more important endeavors, like debating alt-country acts and talking about pizza. We're finally wading through the mass of information and have assembled this road map to everything you need to know, and probably some things you don't, about the center's opening.

The Guest List: The dedication will be one of the almost unprecedented moments when all five living U.S. presidents -- Jimmy Carter, George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton, Dubya, and Barack Obama -- will gather in the same place.

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Confederate Group Shuns Memphis, Moves Convention to Civil War Hotbed Richardson

There's been a bit of a fuss lately over the Memphis City Council's decision to change the name of three city parks, scrubbing them clean of any reference to the Confederacy in hopes of making them more inviting to residents who may not exactly have felt welcome in early-1860s Tennessee.

Gone are Jefferson Davis Park, named for the CSA's first president; Nathan Bedford Forrest Park, honoring a Confederate lieutenant general and the Klan's first grand wizard; and the straightforward Confederate Park. Temporarily at least, they'll be Memphis Park, Mississippi River Park and Health Sciences Park.

The switch has inspired a backlash from groups that celebrate Confederate heritage. Like the Ku Klux Klan.

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Riders Still Waiting on Refunds from Phantom Central Expressway Bike Ride

When a planned Downtown Dallas-to-McKinney bike tour was abruptly cancelled last month -- this the one that would shut down 30 miles of Central Expressway -- riders who had paid their registration for the race were promised a prompt and full refund, assuming they didn't want to take a free pass to a replacement race in Oklahoma City.

Somehow, prompt refunds seemed unlikely. The plan was far-fetched to begin with, and organizer Gary Lacara had already proven willing to play a bit loose with the facts. Take his claim when the ride was announced that he had buy-in from TxDOT as well as each of the cities along the route. Or his claim that it was Plano's obstructionism that killed the race. As we've detailed here before, neither was true.

So it's not at all surprising that CBS 11 reported Wednesday evening that riders do not seem to have received their promised refund. "I've asked him three times and never got a response back after I asked him," John Denman, a McKinney cyclist who dropped $120, told the station.

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At the Mayor's Rally Against Domestic Violence, Big Promises and Some Mixed Messages

Categories: City Hall, Events

domestic violence rally by Bianca Montes.jpg
Photo by Bianca Montes
The couple started arguing on Saturday, around 3 in the morning, in a house near Fair Park. The man told the woman he hadn't forgotten their past arguments, all the times she had "disrespected" him. He shoved his palm hard against her face and forced her down against a desk. She fought him, pushing his hand away from her face. He struck her with the heel of his hand, hitting her hard in the ear. She managed to get away and ran out the door. She stopped outside and lit a cigarette to calm herself. A moment later, he appeared with a bag in his hand.

"If you're going to leave, don't come back," she told him, according to the police report. "Because I'm not going to deal with you putting your hands on me. I'm the mother of your unborn child."

In response, he put both of his hands on her shoulders and shoved her hard to the ground. He ground his foot against her cheek for a moment, then took it away and walked off, stopping in the middle of the street. She followed him. He turned around and punched her in the face. She demanded her phone back. He dropped it to the ground, stomped it to pieces, and ran. He was long gone by the time police arrived.

A few hours later, on a drizzly gray morning, on a temporary stage in the shadow of City Hall, Mayor Mike Rawlings surveyed the huge crowd before him.

"This is amazing," he said, "that the men of Dallas are this excited about something that's not about sports. Major things are happening behind closed doors, and we're here to say, enough is enough."

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Dallas Weed Activists Plan St. Paddy's Day Protest after Being Excluded from Parade

Categories: Events

This weekend's Greenville Ave -- ahem, Dallas St. Patrick's Day Parade & Festival -- is supposed to be more "family friendly" than years past. It sounds ominous but, as we were assured in January, is more of a marketing thing than an effort to keep keep people from getting wildly, embarrassingly drunk.

Still, the new family-friendly policy seems to have claimed its first casualty: marijuana activists.

"The Greenville Avenue Area Business Association has decided not to allow DFW NORML to participate in their St. Paddies Day Parade in Dallas this Saturday because of what we stand for," Shaun McAlister, the group's executive director, wrote on Facebook last night. "Because of this, we hereby protest."

He added, on his personal account, that, "We come in peace, but we're pissed."

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It Seems the Morning News Thinks the Olympics Can Help Save Southern Dallas

Talk of Dallas serving as a potential host city for the Olympics has ramped up in recent weeks, in part because Dallas attorney Matt Wood has begun work to woo the 2024 Summer Games, and partly because Dallas, along with Tulsa, Oklahoma and Rochester, New York, was one of an elite group of 35 cities the U.S. Olympic Committee invited to bid on the games.

The prospect has undeniable allure, what with the attention of the world, not to mention thousands of lithe young athletes, descending upon the city for the better part of a month. And an Olympic host city is nothing if not world-class.

Then again, Dallas is blessed with scorching summer heat and ungainly sprawl. In other words, a tremendous long shot, albeit one that has the Morning News' official blessing. Yesterday, the paper penned an editorial exhorting planners to forge ahead with an Olympic bid.

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Protesters Planning Demonstration at George W. Bush Presidential Center Opening

Categories: Events, News

The People's Response
Some, if not all, of these individual will attend the April 25 rally against the Bush Center.
The George W. Bush Presidential Center, construction of which has clogged up the eastern part of the SMU campus for years now, will be christened at a private ceremony on April 25. The former president will be there, as will wife Laura and an unspecified numbers of alumni from the Bush-Cheney administration.

"With world leaders invited to join President and Mrs. Bush for this historic day," the center's website boasts, "the event is expected to enjoy internationally-televised coverage."

In other words, it's the perfect stage for a protest. That's what a coalition of local human rights-oriented groups are planning to do. They're organizing what they're calling "The People's Response" to speak out against Bush administration policies.

But Bush left office more than four years ago, you might point out. Why not move on, let bygones be bygones? The Bush Center is, after all, a pretty unobjectionable place, what with a presidential library, museum, rose garden and think tank.

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Highway-Closing Dallas-to-McKinney Bike Ride Cancelled in Sketchiest Way Possible

Categories: Events

Bike The City - Bike Dallas to Mckinney - the ULTIMATE Cycling Tour is here!.jpg
You can bike a city, just not this city.
Last month, Gary Lacara was "100 percent" sure that Bike the City, his 30-mile, Dallas-to-McKinney charity bicycle tour scheduled for a Sunday morning in April, was a go. "I wouldn't attempt this if I wasn't," he told Unfair Park at the time.

And there was no reason to think he couldn't organize a bike event in three months, other than the not insignificant facts that 1) the event would require the closure of all northbound lanes of U.S. 75 that the route runs straight down U.S. 75 and 2) he had permission from neither the Texas Department of Transportation nor any of the cities -- Dallas, Richardson, Plano, Allen, McKinney -- the highway passes through.

Both trifling matters, he assured us, and TxDOT confirmed they'd been in talks with Lacara and were, at least in theory, open to closing the freeway assuming the cities were on board. In other words, there was no reason people should worry about going to the website and cough up $45 to $240 for registration.

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The Man Who Wants to Shut Down Central for a 30-Mile Bike Ride Is "100 Percent" Sure He Has Approval. TxDOT Is Not.

central_mockingbird freeway.jpg
Picture this, but with 10,000 bicycles.
Starting at 7 a.m. on Sunday, April 21, all four lanes of Central Expressway will be shut down for several hours as some 10,000 cyclists pedal their way from downtown Dallas to McKinney. That's at least what a group called Bike the City is promising.

It's an undeniably badass plan, reappropriating one of the region's major highways as one humungous bike lane. But its website, which is already soliciting registrations at $45 to $240 per person, and organizers' confidence seem a bit premature.

"In short, it's not a done deal at all," TxDOT spokeswoman Michelle Releford said. "What they're advertising on our website is not a done deal."

The agency could hypothetically shut down a portion of a major highway for an event, but a number of high bureaucratic hurdles would have to be surmounted first. To begin with, event organizers would need to obtain permission from each of the cities they intend to pass through, in this case Dallas, Richardson, Plano, Allen and McKinney.

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