Da’Shayla Foard, an incoming senior at Irma Lerma Rangel Young Women’s Leadership School, is already well versed in politics and the issues that face her community both at school and in Dallas as a whole. Not only is she the incoming Student Body President at her high school, but she is also a member of the Young Women’s Advisory Council for the Texas Women’s Foundation- a Dallas based nonprofit that seeks to make women full participants of an equitable society and create leadership and economic opportunities for women and girls across the state. Through this organization, Foard has developed her understanding of complex social and political issues. This, coupled with likely several binge sessions of Law and Order and Criminal Minds, gave rise to her aspiration to achieve a career in the legal field as an appellate attorney.
On April 9th, 2006, an estimated half-million people marched through Downtown Dallas to protest a House Resolution that would have imposed harsher penalties for undocumented immigration. The protesters were young and old, clothed in white as a symbol of peace, and carried countless American flags. Karla Garcia was one of those people who marched. Karla Garcia now serves as the youngest and first-ever Latina to serve on the Dallas ISD Board of Trustees 13 years later.
Cydney Walker is the Founder and Host of Coffee and Politics 101, a grassroots video series that focuses on sharing information regarding local and state politics relevant in North Texas. With almost 2,000 followers, Coffee and Politics 101 is the go-to resource for voters to gain access to candidates, elected officials, and policy experts taking part in discussions on hot-button topics. As a now-retired dietician, Cydney dedicates herself full-time to Coffee and Politics 101, airing a new episode each week. With each discussion Cydney posts, she is takings steps towards bridging the gap between men and women in politics.
Asha Beacham shook the Dallas-area community when she published her first episode of Tough Topics, a video series that shared controversial opinions on tough topics within the urban community. Asha already has three full-length episodes, tackling the topics of Black feminism, LGBTQ rights particularly with a focus on Black trans-women, and colorism within people of color communities. Asha released her first episode after the murder of her friend, Muhlaysia Booker, a Black transgender woman whose story went viral after she was brutally beaten by a crowd of men in a Dallas apartment complex. But Asha wants to change the narrative surrounding her community, ending the commonality of self-hatred.
Rhetta Bowers, recently elected to the Texas House of Representatives, is the first black woman to be elected in House District 113 . “When you’re the first, you’re like a bridge,” she explained. “But bridges are made to be walked on. Although it’s uncomfortable to be walked on, it’s the only way to get to the other side— and create the change you want to bring to your community.”
The dictionary defines family as “a group of parents and children living together in a household” or “all the descendants of a common ancestor”. This is what Pamela Phoenix preaches – family. You cannot meet Mrs. Phoenix without noticing her smile, her dedication and love for the City of Tyler, her sincere concern for her community, and her sense of urgency to solve Tyler’s increasing housing and homelessness issue. From caring for her children and grandchildren, to caring for Tyler residents, Pamela Phoenix considers all of us her family.
When Yolian Ogbu and Hillary Shah were finishing up their high school careers at Lone Star High School in Frisco, Texas, they each had several options to pursue their college careers, Yolian planning to double major in Political Science and Communications and Hillary in Political Science and Economics. Both chose to attend the University of North Texas, because it was affordable and close to family, but they also ended up with a home and a community. A Sophomore and Freshman respectively, Yolian and Hillary needed little time on campus to recognize the blatant shortcomings of the organization that is meant to maintain that home and community through student representation: The Student Government Association. With the help of their mentor, Misaki Collins, the duo launched a historic and dynamic run; Yolian for President and Hillary for Vice President.
The life of Helen Keller is a widely known story in the United States, commonly referred to in conversations of resiliency, or on topics of overcoming difficult situations. Books such as The Miracle Worker by William Gibson, The World I Live In by Helen Keller, or Teacher: Anne Sullivan Macy by Helen Keller tell the story of a deaf and blind girl who, despite her disabilities, attended Radcliffe College of Harvard University in 1900 and became a lecturer. Her story of resiliency exceeds time and culture: in an eighth grade classroom in Albuquerque, New Mexico, the successes of Helen Keller touched a young Regina Montoya in a remarkable way.
If you are looking for an inspiring story spurred from within generation Z, enter Cassandra Hernandez. She is only a junior in high school yet she has already advocated for critical education policy, attended protests in her community, and stood as a voice against gentrification in her Oak Cliff neighborhood. As our youngest feature subject thus far, we hope you are as impressed as we are, here at Lone Star Parity Project. Meet our Gen Z hero: Cassandra.
Lillian Salerno, one of nine children, is an entrepreneur, lawyer, and former appointee of the Obama administration, has managed to leave her own mark on the Texas community. In the most recent stage of her long and successful career, Lillian ran for the United States House of Representatives for Texas District 32, which is mostly the northern and eastern part of Dallas county. After making it to the democratic primary runoff in May 2018, Lillian was defeated by Colin Allred. Her loss, though, didn’t stop her from continuing to fight for her fellow Texans. Lillian started Pod Bless Texas, an irreverent and conversational podcast showcasing the behind-the-scenes of Texas politics by giving voice to passionate Texas politicians. “I feel so strongly that Texas is sitting here being one of the reasons whether this country moves in the right direction or not,” she said. “I happen to be in this position where I know a few things that might help… [and] I want to do everything I can to help during this critical period.”