President of Paul Quinn College
In an effort to address a litany of economic, educational, public policy and leadership development issues, Paul Quinn College recently announced the creation of the African American Leadership Institute.
The Institute, which will be headquartered on the campus of the private Dallas Black college, is an ambitious initiative designed to create a comprehensive strategic plan for the future of the Black community in Texas. Working with elected officials and community leaders from North Central Texas, the Institute will become a public policy center that will produce scholarly research on a range of topics from education to economic development as it relates to the Black community throughout Texas.
“The people of Texas deserve an Institute that is devoted to the needs and issues of its African-American community,” said Paul Quinn President Michael J. Sorrell in an interview with Diverse. “This is about creating space where there is legitimate and real research being done.”
Sorrell is currently in the process of searching for an executive director to lead the institute. He said that candidate development will only be one part of the Institute’s focus. But he said that Paul Quinn College can be a model for spearheading serious discussions that affect Black Texans.
“This is about coming generations of our elected officials and community leaders to see bigger pictures,” said Sorrell. “This is about trying to show people that there are things that can and should be done.”
For example, Sorrell has been a vocal leader in calling for Dallas officials to tackle the issue of stray dogs that have gotten loose throughout the city — particularly in poorer neighborhoods — and have attacked local residents.
Paul Quinn, which is located in a food and transportation desert, has been calling on local officials to bring out development for underrepresented communities, under the leadership of Sorrell.
Black legislators such as State Sen. Royce West have lent their support to this initiative.
“Current leaders have a responsibility to not only responsively represent their constituency, but they must create the leaders that will follow behind them,” said West. “It is this premise that fostered the partnership that is the African American Leadership Institute.”
State Rep. Toni Rose praised the effort and said that it will have long-term benefits for local Dallas residents.
“The Institute is a historic understanding and I’m pleased to work hand in hand with elected officials, academician, and the business community to bring this proactive vision to life,” said Rose. “Understanding the impact of state and local policy on the African-American community and developing new directions that can be championed by all involved will serve to create even more unified action around needed change.”
Jamal Eric Watson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can follow him on Twitter @jamalericwatson.