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The Texas Legislative Black Caucus proudly announces the selection of highly-touted entrepreneur Roland Parrish of Dallas as the Chairman’s Award recipient for the upcoming 2017 African American Legislative Summit on February 26, 2017 at the Hilton Downtown in Austin.

The prestigious Chairman’s Award is bestowed on a biennial basis to an exemplary citizen whose transcendent contributions to the community are awe-inspiring but sometimes overlooked by those in the general public. The 2017 Honoree, Roland Parrish, aptly fits this description to a highly deserving degree. Restauranteur Roland Parrish has been an unwavering and undeniable economic development machine in the Dallas area for many years.

Following a standout undergraduate career at Purdue University as a Hall of Fame Track & Field athlete and straight A student, Mr. Parrish began his prolific business career as an executive at Exxon. After keenly sensing the need and opportunity for economic development in our communities, Roland embarked on a career path that would lead him to lofty heights as an entrepreneur of the greatest magnitude. Mr. Parrish would open the first of his now more than 20 McDonald’s restaurants in 1989, the culmination of years of perseverance, hard work and business acumen. His empire of restaurants in North Texas now gross more than $60 million annually in sales, have created scores of jobs, and revitalized areas making them prime targets for economic development spurring more job opportunities in the process. His business prowess has led to recognition by those within his sector, evident in his longtime role as Chair and CEO of the National Black McDonald’s Operators Association. Parrish Restaurants Ltd. is also recognized by Wells Fargo Bank as one of the Top 200 largest franchisees in the United States. This organization of more than 260 members, owning more than 1,400 stores, across most of the U.S., the Caribbean and South Africa constitute gross national sales of more than $3 Billion annually, making them one of, if not the, most successful group of African American entrepreneurs in existence.


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Saturday’s unveiling of the Texas African American History Memorial at the Capitol could have been a somber occasion – a reflection on centuries of slavery and legalized oppression. Instead, it was a moment of rejoicing for the hundreds of guests, who celebrated how so many had overcome deep struggles and how the event appealed to a better future.

State officials and other special guests, including benefactors, revealed the memorial on the south lawn of the Capitol, a feat that comes more than two decades after lawmakers first pushed for the bronze and granite monument to African-Americans in Texas.

“This has not been an easy journey,” said Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner, a former member of the Texas House who helped secure funding for the memorial. “And I’m not referring to the raising of money or to the construction of this monument. I am talking about the history of African-Americans of the state of Texas and where we are today.”

Turner said that while many often focus on current struggles, it’s important to look back and see how far the state and its residents have come.

The journey “began a long time ago in this state. And look at where we are today. I think that speaks volumes.”

The 27-foot high, 32-foot wide monument depicts Juneteenth – June 19, 1865 – when hundreds of Union troops arrived in Texas and announced the freedom of slaves in the U.S., along with major social, political and cultural icons in the state from years later. The structure also portrays the cattle, cotton and oil industries and black Texans’ role in advancing them. Ed Dwight, a Denver-based sculptor, proposed the monument to mark the history of black people in Texas, a history that pre-dates the United States.

Dwight had three jobs, said Bill Jones, chairman of the Texas African American History Memorial Foundation: create a memorial that is historically accurate, aesthetically pleasing and has emotional impact.

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Rep. Helen Giddings

A number of new officers were name to the Texas Legislative Black Caucus leadership on this week. Chief among them was the election of State Rep. Helen Giddings, D-DeSoto, as chairperson.

“I am honored to have the confidence of my fellow African American legislators to lead the Texas Legislative Black Caucus during this critical time for our state,” said Giddings. “The talents and skills of every member of the TLBC will be utilized to develop an agenda that builds on past successes and confronts the challenges of today.”

Now serving her 11th term, Representative Helen Giddings serves the cities of House District 109: Dallas, DeSoto, Cedar Hill, Glenn Heights, Hutchins, Lancaster, Wilmer, as well as part of Duncanville.

Rep. Helen Giddings has a longstanding reputation as being an ardent education and business advocate; and recently lent her concerns over the recently overturned Texas Voter ID law. The statute was struck down by the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals Wednesday.

“Today is a great day for Texas voters and Texas families. The 5th Circuit Court of Appeals has affirmed that Texas’ Voter ID law places an unfair and unconstitutional barrier to our democracy,” Rep. Giddings said. “I am thrilled the court declared the right to vote shall not be infringed.”

The stringent Voter ID law passed in 2011 has proven to be an enormous barrier to democracy for Texas’ most vulnerable communities, including college students, the working poor, and the elderly. Some estimates have indicated that up to 700,000 otherwise eligible Texans have lost their right to vote since the law was passed.

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