Click here to read the full story on NBC by Candace Sweat.
An organization that aims to end systemic inequalities and oppression has recently taken a step that will expand its physical presence and its impact on the community.
For Oak Cliff recently acquired the old moorland YMCA on East Ledbetter Drive. The historic landmark was once a den for black people in Dallas and a famous name during Jim Crow Era and part of the Civil Rights Movement. It now belongs to a new generation of world-changers.
A blank canvas means endless possibilities. With vision, you hold the keys and power to create almost anything that comes to life. The old moorland is the YMCA canvas and is co-founder of Taylor Toynes, For Oak Cliff. With the key in hand, Toynes made a representation of what was, and what was to come; And he stands at the crossroads of the two. He jokingly calls the key an “infinite stone”. It is a new day on the eastern Ledbetter. Time to breathe new life into the old moorland YMCA building.
“It’s something to process, you know,” Toynes said. “Five times more space than where we came from.”
The acquisition of the facility is an ambitious move with larger goals. The organization is currently housed at South Marsalis Avenue in Dallas. The Moorland YMCA is 80 times the size of that space.
“We started with 250 sq ft. And now we are talking about ten acres and 20,000 square feet here.
Moorland YMCA has a deep history. Dr. of the Colored Men’s Department of Washington, YMCA. It was the name for the Reverend Jesse Edward Mooreland, the original facility at 2700 Flora Street that served as a hub in the black community – meeting social, economic and material needs. When segregation prevented black people from staying in some hotels, celebrities like Muhammad Ali and Justice Thurgood Marshall took refuge there.
Fast forward to the East Ledbetter location in Oak Cliff, and continued as a pillar in the moorland YMCA community. KXAS archive footage from 1982 put a spotlight on the venue to provide afterschool havens for children. At some point in history, even Toynes was one of those children.
“This place, this land that we stand on, was built for the African American people,” Toynes said. “It is just a true asset to our community and an unprecedented responsibility for us as an organization.”
Now that it is of Oak Oak Cliff, the nuances of the vision are still coming to mind. But the objective is always clear – to lift Oak Cliff from systemic oppression through a culture of education while increasing social mobility and social capital. Its four pillars are education, advocacy, arts and community building.
“I think of all the necessary life skills taught in this space,” Toynes said. “Your legacy is the things you do for other people who are going away and do great things as well. Therefore, you cannot actually measure that effect. And this is the right legacy. “
Soon this building will be filled with life and work will develop with time and the needs of those who need their resources.
“Life will change.” And our work will change. “It will not be the same as the last seven years.”
Nevertheless, the work has always been and always will be for the people of Oak Cliff.
“This is space, a vehicle to help carry that mission forward,” Toynes said. “It is more than a vehicle. This is our spaceship. “
Issued the following statement about the acquisition and future goals for Oak Cliff:
“We have a collective impact model, so we partner with many organizations to achieve our mission. We hope to bring additional partners to join our new building and embed programs and make an impact here at Superblock.
The biggest goal will be to launch our 3-year capital campaign. We have already put in $ 400,000 in the $ 2.1 million escrow required to fully pay for the building. We are starting a capital campaign and we will need support from everyone to pay for the building. In total, we aim to raise $ 10 million, covering the total cost of the building and annual operating costs for programs such as our GED, LENA, Food Pantry, Bill Assistance, and more.
Finally, the next few months will focus on creating awareness about our community, highlighting the history of a notable institution like Moorland, and enlisting more support and resources for Oak Cliff. Given the rich black history of this building, it seems like divine evidence that we as a black-led organization are just getting it — and we are grateful for this responsibility. “
By Candace Sweat