South Dallas welcomes Beto at Good Street Baptist

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Senate candidate Beto O’Rourke delivers a highly-charged speech to attendees at the town hall held in the historic Good Street Baptist Church in South Dallas. O’Rourke made note of the fact it was the same church where a sermon on civil rights was delivered by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. (Photo: David Wilfong / NDG)

By David Wilfong, NDG Contributing Writer

U.S. Senate candidate Beto O’Rourke made a return visit to Dallas on Friday, Sept. 14 appearing before a packed house at the historic Good Street Baptist Church in the heart of South Dallas.

The weather was dreary, but spirits were high as the African American church played host to visitors and Beto supporters from across the DFW area.

“It’s a huge honor for us to be at the Good Street Baptist Church,” Beto said before going out to greet the crowd. “It’s a huge honor to be with the people who want to serve and represent in the United States Senate. And as we do in every single part of Texas, we’re here to listen to those who want to serve and represent and talk about what’s on the minds of anyone who wants to offer their opinion, their suggestion; I do my best to answer their questions.”

O’Rourke was introduced to the audience by Dallas County Commissioner John Wiley Price. Noting the presence of the Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity at the event, registering new voters on-site, Price told the audience a lack of registration was not the biggest issue for Democrats and the Black community in particular.

Dallas County Commissioner John Wiley Price introduced Beto O’Rourke to a packed sanctuary at the town hall meeting. In the process, Price challenged Democrats in Dallas County to improve on the voter turn-out and “quit pootin’ around.” (Photo: David Wilfong / NDG)

“Districts 1, 3 and 4 are Democratic districts,” Price said. “In the last mid-term election, we increased our voter turn-out by two … twice as many. District 2, which is Republican, turned out three times. We just happened to have more districts.”

In summation, Price said Dallas Democrats need to “quit pootin’ around.”

Beto took the microphone and spoke to the energized crowd about the significance of speaking in a church where Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. once delivered a sermon on civil rights. He recalled the paths of African American agitators from El Paso, Texas to the national stage and pledged to continue pushing the cause of civil rights in the Senate.

He ended on a note of disgust at the shooting of an innocent Black man, Botham Jean, in his home in Dallas by a Dallas police officer, and the subsequent leaking to the press of personal information many believe to be intended to assassinate the character of the victim. The latter of which brought the crowd to their feet in thunderous agreement.

As usual, Beto took questions and concerns from the audience. Many audience members centered on issues of racial equality, and the perceived rising influence of bigotry on the national political stage. There were also questions raised about the effect of charter schools on education.

One question was a concern for the possibility of “Medicare for all” pushing existing disabled and elderly Medicare recipients to the bottom of the priority list. Beto conceded to the audience member it was an aspect of the healthcare issue he had not considered in previous deliberations on the matter, but he promised it would be in any future debate.

The race for the Senate is becoming tighter, and even the national media is beginning to point to a nervous incumbent in sitting Senator Ted Cruz. Beto is finding himself the target of attacks by Cruz supports saying he is not “Texas enough” to represent the Lone Star State. O’Rourke responded to questions from reporters by simply reiterating his case and approach to the coming election.

Congressman Beto O’Rourke meets with reporters prior to going into the sanctuary of Good Street Baptist Church on Sept. 14. (Photo: David Wilfong / NDG)

“There’s only one person in this race who’s been to each one of the 254 counties in Texas,” Beto said. “Having spent the better part of two years traveling to every part of Texas – listening to everyone I can – I have a good sense of who we are. We are not a people who make our decisions based on fear. We’re not afraid of the future. We’re not afraid of the rest of the world. And we want to be there for, and by, one another.

“That means that we don’t need walls. We don’t want to take kids away from their parents when they come here seeking asylum. It means that we do want to make sure that all of us can see a doctor or a provider, a therapist or seek medications so that we’re well enough to be at our best in our life. We believe in the excellence of public education. And we believe in making sure that everyone’s heard and represented. And this campaign – unlike almost any other – doesn’t receive a dime of PAC money or special interest, or corporate help, and is all about people every single day, and in every part of Texas. This is the campaign that I believe reflects the aspirations of the state.”

Behind the scenes at the Sept. 14 Beto Rally at Good Street Baptist Church