Category Archives: Grand Prairie

GPISD Board of Trustees Votes to Rename Elementary School

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Grand Prairie, Texas – On the heels of unanimously adopting a Racial Equity Resolution, the GPISD Board of Trustees voted last night to rename the current Robert E. Lee Elementary School after longtime GPISD educator and principal Delmas Morton.

The school’s new namesake, Mr. Delmas Morton, was raised in Grand Prairie and attended Dalworth Elementary School, now known as David Daniels Elementary Academy of Science and Math.

Because he was not allowed to attend Grand Prairie High School and there were no high schools available for students of color in Grand Prairie, Morton attended Booker T. Washington High School in Dallas.

He went on to attend Texas College on a band scholarship, and graduated with his bachelor’s degree in 1952. He later earned his master’s degree from Prairie View A&M University.

Mr. Morton is an Army veteran and fought in the Korean War. After the war, he returned to Grand Prairie to begin teaching at Dalworth. In the mid-70s, he transferred to Adams Middle School. He later moved to Austin Elementary School, where he served as principal for 17 years. In total, Mr. Morton has served the schoolchildren of Grand Prairie ISD for more than 40 years.

“I want to thank my fellow trustees for their care and attention to this important issue,” said Board President Aaron King. “I’m proud that we have the opportunity to honor Mr. Morton and his legacy as a great man and a great educator.”

The school, originally built in 1942, was renamed Robert E. Lee Junior High in June 1955 when the District opened its second junior high school named after Thomas Jefferson. The school was converted to an elementary campus in 2010.

GPISD Board Adopts Resolution to Address Racial Equity

NEWS RELEASE

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On the June 22 called meeting of the GPISD Board of Trustees, the Board made a bold statement to address issues of racial equity in our community.

By an unanimous vote, the Board adopted a sweeping resolution that commits the Trustees and the Superintendent of Schools to taking action. The resolution calls for equity and cultural bias training as well as the formation of a Racial Equity Committee comprised of Board-appointed community members and at least two Board members.

“This resolution is about action,” said Board President Aaron King. “Our Board is committed to modeling behaviors and practices that will ensure we’re part of the larger solution for our students, their families, our staff, and community.”

The resolution states the Board stands in solidarity with its students and community to declare that the lives of black students and black people matter. It goes on to clarify that this declaration “does not negate the commitment to serve all students but rather reaffirms the Board’s commitment to addressing the disparities and inequity of different student groups.”

Also noted in the resolution is previous action taken by the Board in December 2019 to approve an African American Studies course to begin in the fall of 2020. Grand Prairie ISD is among the first group of districts in the state to offer this course.

The full text of the resolution may be found on the GPISD website at www.gpisd.org.

For more information, please contact Sam Buchmeyer, GPISD Public Information Officer, at (972) 237-5380 or by email at sam.buchmeyer@gpisd.org.

Grand Prairie NAACP delivers PPEs to local businesses

NAACP LogoI may have mentioned that I volunteer for a number of non-profits around the area. One of them is the Grand Prairie Chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (GP NAACP).

We recently reached out to local and area businesses and inquired about their need for Personal Protection Equipment (PPE). On April 21, we handed out gloves and masks to the the businesses who, though word-of-mouth, the Facebook page or email, requested them. PPEs were also handed out to the homeless and the poor in the Dalworth neighborhood, where Chapter President Angela Luckey grew up.

As of April 21, Grand Prairie has had 109 COVID-19 cases; Dallas County (the part that Grand Prairie is in) has had 65 cases and two deaths; and Tarrant County (Grand Prairie is also part of this county) has had 44 cases and one death.

PJ“The Grand Prairie NAACP is helping our essential business employees, healthcare workers and residents here in Grand Prairie,” said Chapter President Angela Luckey. “We are helping them to keep safe by providing them with masks and gloves. We also want to help one another find ways to ensure all people get tested for Coronavirus in Grand Prairie.”

Volunteers Phyllis Johnson and myself delivered to the businesses who reached out, as well as to homes of people who couldn’t leave their residence because of a medical condition, or whose caretaker did not have the proper protection.

Volunteer Phyllis Johnson said, “It is a privilege to be a part of an organization that focuses on helping the community, especially the minority community. To help distribute masks and gloves to small businesses in Grand Prairie, in order to help prevent the spread of COVID-19, was a heartwarming experience. People are in need. The recipients were so grateful for our efforts. One elderly lady stated she was grateful for the work that the NAACP is doing in the community.“

I had fun delivering to a couple of businesses. Their reactions were priceless. As we all probably know, PPEs are hard to find sometimes, or are just really expensive. Yet, they are required for many essential businesses. So the bags of gloves and masks, which any kid would hate to unwrap at Christmas, were received with relief and smiles.

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Me, all decked out

ABOUT NAACP:

Founded on February 12, 1909, the NAACP is the nation’s oldest, largest and most widely recognized grassroots-based civil rights organization. It has more than a half-million members and supporters throughout the United States and the world and are the premier advocates for civil rights in their communities, campaigning for equal opportunity and conducting voter mobilization.

The NAACP has been working toward racial equality ever since its inception. They operate on the belief that racial segregation and discrimination limit and diminish human potential, ultimately denying the full benefits of freedom to African Americans and other minorities. The NAACP has been at the forefront of the struggle to eliminate racial disparities in the criminal justice system for decades.

In 1925, the NAACP provided legal representation for Dr. Ossian Sweet, out of Michigan, who was facing a mob of angry white people after moving into an all-white neighborhood. When the mob attacked his home, one person perished. Dr. Sweet and his brother were charged with murder.

Famed attorney Clarence Darrow, retained by the NAACP, represented Mr. Sweet. The first trial ended in a mistrial when an all-white jury could not agree. The second trial ended in a “not guilty” verdict. This early NAACP-supported case coined the phrase, “A man’s home is his castle.”

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Volunteer Phyllis Johnson (L) and Chapter President Angela Luckey get ready for PPE deliveries

The Grand Prairie Chapter of the NAACP will continue to work with their partners to bring some relief, and hopefully some smiles, to the Grand Prairie area, minority of not. “We are all inclusive,” said Luckey.

FREE Masks and Gloves Courtesy of Grand Prairie NAACP Available for 30 Essential Businesses

NAACP LogoThe Grand Prairie Chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) is offering FREE gloves and masks to 30 essential businesses in Grand Prairie (they will consider businesses in neighboring communities on a case-by-case basis).

An “essential business” is a business that stocks items and provides services that most humans need for survival, such as food, public safety via first responders, health care services, veterinarians, energy and electricity, petroleum and propane, waste and wastewater, transportation, communication services and more.

For more information, visit their Facebook Page or apply by filling out the form below:

 

Brief guide of what’s been cancelled, postponed and what’s still going on

According to The Rambler Newspapers, here’s what’s cancelled, what’s been rescheduled and what’s still going on:

Grand Prairie NAACP holds its 33rd Annual Freedom Fund Scholarship Gala 3/20/20

SPONSORED POST

Join Us for the NAACP Grand Prairie Scholarship Gala on March 20, 2020

You’re invited to join us and other visionary leaders, educators, innovators, and entrepreneurs across industries and the community, as a Diversity & Inclusion Sponsor, Partner, or participant, at the 33rd Annual NAACP Grand Prairie Freedom Fund Scholarship Gala.

The Gala will benefit local students with scholarships for the advancement of education, and will be held Friday, March 20, 2020 at 7:00 p.m., at Ruthe Jackson Center, 3113 S. Carrier Pkwy., Grand Prairie, Texas, 75052.

**30% OFF LIMITED TIME OFFER: Take 30% off select ticket items by using Promo Code “DIVERSITY”. Purchase two – four (2-4) of the General Admission or VIP Tickets; or the VIP Vendor Pack, and receive an instant 30% off.

CONNECT EARLY

Prepare to arrive early at 6:00 p.m. to experience the Happy Hour Networking Reception, Silent Auction, and Vendors. The Gala will continue with dynamic speakers, dinner and entertainment!

Time: Mixer ~ Networking and Silent Auction/Vendor Table at 6:00pm – 6:45pm

Scholarship Gala: 7:00 P. M. (Doors Open 6:45 P. M.)

Location: The Ruthe Jackson Center,  3113 S. Carrier Pkwy Grand Prairie, Texas

Emcee: Cheryl Smith, National Association of Black Journalists

DJ: Matthew Redic Entertainment ~ DaMone Jones (Comedian) & Featuring LottoMuzik Hip Hop Artist Oklahoma

Ticket Price: $50.00; NAACP Members $30.00

Contact: Dexter Coleman, Co-Chairman Freedom Fund at (469) 744-4705 or Col Tom Smith (US Army RET) 214-207-7910. Tickets may also be purchased on Eventbrite.

Sponsored by Spring Creek Barbeque, Stripe Zones, Grand Prairie Parks & Recreation, Coca-Cola Company

KRISTEN GEEZKeynote Speaker: Kristen Geez is the creator of Advising Generation Z (AGZ), a non-profit social skills mentoring program that provides misguided students with safe places to develop through programs in 11 school districts and 4 municipal courts across North Texas. AGZ is broken into two programs: Lipstick Ready for ladies and Shepherds of Healing for guys. AGZ is aided by a digital series called AdvisingGenz with exercises and testimonials that help students navigate life’s difficulties. Kristen is a TEDx Speaker, a Brand Ambassador for Women That Soar and the Special Projects Contractor for Tarrant County Community College. Kristen holds a BS in Ethical Leadership, an MEd in Leadership & Development and will begin pursuing her Doctoral Degree in degree in Leadership and Learning Specialization in Organizational Leadership in the fall of 2020.

Download the flier HERE in .pdf form that is perfect for printing. 

NAACP Flyer

Sponsors are still needed as well. Please download the .pdf packet HERE.

President of Grand Prairie NAACP reminisces on ‘Growing Up in Dalworth’

By Stacey Doud

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A store in the Dalworth neighborhood

I was recently invited to attend a General Meeting of the Grand Prairie Historical Organization (GPHO). I wasn’t emotionally prepared to hear the stories that the Grand Prairie National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) President, Angela Luckey, had to tell. She spoke about “Growing Up in Dalworth,” which is an historically poor African American neighborhood. I also grew up poor in a different place, but a lot of what Luckey said resonated with me personally.

Between 1910 and 1920, Dalworth Park was established with modern conveniences including water, gas, sidewalks and telephones. Businesses such as The Spikes Brothers Broom Factory and the Dalworth Business College moved in, boosting the local economy.

South of the railroad tracks, a community with primarily African American residents, many who worked in the Dalworth Park area, was established and named South Dalworth Park. These communities were incorporated into Grand Prairie in 1942.

After a god BBQ lunch, President of the GPHO, John Wylie, gave a little background on and introduced Luckey.

“[Luckey] is a retired DoD [Department of Defense] professional. She also worked for NASD [National Association of Securities Dealers] and retired for obvious reasons, since NASD was actually closed. She worked overseas in Family Support. As a G.I. for 26 years, stationed around the world, I myself appreciated Family Support at the bases I was stationed at [in the Air Force]. I not only appreciated them, but I used them. So, thank you, Angela,” said Wylie.

Among her 30 years of achievements, Luckey served in Federal Service at NAS JRB (Naval Air Station Joint Reserve Base Fort Worth). She is on the Executive Board of the Greater Dallas Head Start Program and has been a candidate for mayor and for the school board. She is a past president of the Dalworth Historical Society. She is currently on the Advisory Board for Constable Ed Wright Pct. 4. On a personal note, she’s lived in Grand Prairie since birth, and has three kids and three grandkids. Her husband, Lenel, served in the Army and fought in the Middle East. He died of a heart attack in 2015.

“I am so proud of my and my family’s history in Grand Prairie. I was born over at Parkland Hospital on March 21, 1966. My family lived across the tracks of the Dalworth community,” Luckey said.

Luckey had the opportunity to attend Head Start before transferring to Dalworth Elementary School in the first grade.

“Head Start is a federally-funded daycare facility, so when the federal government decided to bring a Head Start program to Dallas County, the first Center opened up in Grand Prairie, Texas. So, I got an early head start in education and I really appreciate the federal government at the time for thinking about children in poverty-stricken and low-income areas because we had early education when I was three years old. And now I am an executive board member for Head Start. I really appreciate what Head Start did then and what it is doing today for children and young mothers that have kids, but have to work,” Luckey explained.

After making her way through the younger years of education, Luckey attended the one all-black high school at the time, which was called Dalworth High School.

“A lot of prominent people came out of that [High School] that became judges, doctors and lawyers. Every profession you can think of came out of Dalworth. We have professional athletes that went on to become inductees to the Hall of Fame, like Charlie Taylor and so forth,” Luckey said proudly.

Many Grand Prairie residents aren’t aware that Dalworth produced a championship-winning football team in 1958. The team was called the Dalworth Dragons, and they received a Proclamation that was presented by Mayor C.R. Sargent, who held this office at the time. Luckey had an original copy of this accolade, complete with the City Seal, and read it to the attendees.

“I wanted to read [the proclamation] because it’s part of my foundation – a part of how I got here,” Luckey said.

Luckey then recruited a couple of helpers to hold up a large poster of her family tree. She explained each branch and the hardships they faced, as well as the victories they enjoyed. Her Great Great Grandfather, Frederick Douglas Reed, moved out of Waco to the Grand Prairie area in the early 1920’s because his cousin, Jesse Washington Jr., was accused of raping a white woman in Waco, Texas.

“[My relatives that moved to Grand Prairie] lived on a farm and could pass for white [Caucasian]. There was a horrific accident that occurred here in Grand Prairie that involved his [her great-great grandfather’s] wagon. He was crossing the railroad track and the wagon collided with an interurban train that was coming from Fort Worth to Dallas. Three of his children died in that wreckage.

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Luckey’s Family Tree

“There’s a tiny grave at Grand Prairie High School [near the baseball fields, south of the school]. They have a little fence on Small Street, and the three children were actually buried there. I wanted to share a bit of my family history so you can understand where my roots come from,” Luckey said.

When Luckey was in first grade at Dalworth Elementary, the school district was faced with a lawsuit. One of the African American parents that had a student in Grand Prairie wanted the schools to be integrated. As a result of that lawsuit, younger children were bussed out of their neighborhoods. Luckey ended up attending Dalworth Elementary, Bowie Elementary and Sam Houston Elementary. These constant changes took the sense of stability out of their educational lives, sometimes adding to the chaos of their home lives.

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Luckey and her mother

“As a child growing up in Dalworth, I didn’t have a sense of being poor,” Luckey said. “Looking back now, I don’t even know how my parents did it. But my mother worked for LTV and had a college degree. When she worked, she made sure that she went to work during the hours we were at school. So that means when we got up in the morning, she did our hair and made sure we got dressed and went to school. We had breakfast and a dinner when we came home. [My mother] had three kids by the time she was 18 or 19 years old. She’s been married to her husband for 56 years. I tell my mom all the time, ‘They don’t make women like you anymore. Not at all,’” Luckey said, giving a nod to her mother, who was in the audience.

Luckey graduated from South Grand Prairie High School when she was 16 years old because she elected to take classes during every summer. “I thought that once you graduated school, you were grown. That’s not how my father was. His rules were, ‘Until you turn 18, you can’t have a boyfriend.’ I didn’t go to the prom or have a boyfriend in high school because that was not allowed until age 18.

“When I was 18, I was running track at the University of Texas at Arlington (UT-A). The first boy that ever took an interest in me became my boyfriend,” Luckey laughed.

Luckey then attended Sam Houston State University in Huntsville and Texas College in Tyler where she earned her bachelor’s degree. She received her master’s degree from Amberton University.

Luckey then got serious.

“You guys are going to be the first to hear this. I mean, my family knows, but I’ve never told this while public speaking. I told myself, ‘I have worked 30 years for the Department of Defense. I’ve worked in Europe. I’ve worked on installations where you have to have a really secret security clearance to where the government had a sign saying if you step here, we can shoot you on the spot. So, I’ve seen a lot of things that the average citizen doesn’t get to see from our federal government. When it came to the point when I could retire after 30 years, I decided to retire. I was 50 years old in 2016.

“So, then I thought, ‘Angela, what are you going to do now?’ I wanted to volunteer for an organization that helps people. Then I began to sit and look at my childhood because some people have things that chase them. Sometimes they’re called ‘skeletons in the closet.’ I realized that I had something that chased me, but it chased me in a positive direction.

“In fourth grade, my teacher, Mr. Grant, had a cousin who was not such a good man. My teacher’s cousin molested me. I was afraid to tell my parents. They didn’t learn about this story until I was fully grown and married with children.  I think that’s why I like to work with the young and disadvantaged. You never know what their struggles are.

“I didn’t let that situation knock me down. It got behind me and it chased me. I wanted to be greater than great. I remember when I was running track at UT-A, I was coming out of the dorm and noticed that there were some yard people that were doing the yard outside the dorm. I looked up, and I saw him [the man who molested her] standing there, staring at me. I didn’t know what to do because I hadn’t [told] anyone. But I didn’t go back to UT-A. I decided I didn’t want to be where he was. I ended up going to Texas College in Tyler. My dad drove me there and basically dropped me off and drove away.

“That was the biggest blessing God could give me, being dropped off at that small black college because it was there that I understood purpose. It was there when I decided that I wanted to be greater than great, and I wanted to be someone that after I go and do whatever I was trying to do, at the end of the day I want to come back and I wanted to be able to help people just like me. That’s basically what I did. I got a master’s degree from Amity University. I have been up in Air Force Two. I have been in the White House several times, with the purpose to visit under every president’s leadership,” Luckey said.

Luckey presented Jan Barrett, the GPHO Program Chair, as well as GPHO President John Wylie, with medals of appreciation from the Grand Prairie NAACP.

Luckey then introduced the owner of Ethalue’s Salon, which has been in business in Dalworth for over 50 years. “This was not just a place to get your hair done,” Luckey said. “This was a place for fellowship, and of course, the latest gossip.”

Ms. Ethalue gave her own account of what it was like being a business owner in Dalworth. Despite some setbacks, her Salon (and now Spa) have been going strong for over half a century.

I personally know it wasn’t luck(ey) that helped Angela achieve all that she has. She is very grateful to God and her family and close friends for guiding her in the tough times. She has touched many people in a positive way, and I know she will keep going.

***

In fact, here’s some info on the GPNAACP’s next event:

NAACP Flyer

Download a .pdf version of the flier perfect for printing HERE

Editior’s Corner: Lone Star Park offers great races and big smiles

By Stacey Doud

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I had the good fortune to get a behind-the-scenes tour at Lone Star Park at Grand Prairie, which hosts horse races and special events for the city. I was there for the annual Lone Stars and Stripes Celebration for the 4th of July, but the tour overshadowed any fireworks display I could see.

My tour guide was Communications Manager Diantha Brazzell, who has been employed at the park since 1997. She said that the attendance on Independence Day is usually their busiest day of the year, with crowds ranging from 13,000 people to 15,000 people. Brazzell said that their record was in 2000, with over 33,000 people in attendance.

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Photo courtesy of Lone Star Park

The celebration is as old as the Race Park. Every year, more family-friendly activities are added, such as a Family Fun Park with bounce houses, face painters, tattoo artists, pony rides and a petting zoo to make sure everyone of every age has a great time.

Lone Star Park opened in 1996, just in time for the Kentucky Derby. While “betting on the ponies” had been legal in Texas since 1987, Lone Star Park was one of the three “Class One” horse tracks to open in the state. This means that they may host unlimited races, as compared to Class Two, which only gets 60 racing days per year. The other Class One tracks are Retama Park in Selma and Sam Houston Race Park in Houston.

“Before I worked here, I came out to bet on the Kentucky Derby, back in 1996. I drove over an hour to get here, but I was turned away at the gate because they were already sold out!” Brazzell said. “Since the Park was so new, lots of people were coming to bet on the Derby for the first time.”

The main building opened the next year in 1997, and the original structure, which had been known as the “Post Time Pavilion” was redesigned into the “Bar & Book,” a seven-day-a-week simulcast wagering facility that features races from around the world as well as other sports, which is in operation to this day.

HorseParade2Brazzell took me up to the Penthouse floor to her office, where we chatted about the park. She suddenly stopped talking and looked at the television in her office. She had her eye on a particular filly named Lay M Out, and while she hadn’t placed any bets, she wanted to see how the horse performed. It came in first place.

After the race was over, Brazzell filled me in on some of the struggles the park has been facing. The owners of quality horses sometimes go to Oklahoma or Louisiana to run their stock because they can make more money in those locations due to gaming (gambling casinos) being on the premises. Currently, that type of gambling is illegal in Texas. Fortunately, there is hope on the horizon.

“With the bills that recently passed, that the governor signed last week, one of them is that it takes the tax dollars from any equine-related products, such as feed, hay and tack, and it puts it into the fund for the Texas Racing Commission to divvy out. It will be split between the four major tracks in Texas. The law goes into effect on September 1, and it’ll take some time to accumulate money. But it’s positive news, and I’m so excited because it’ll increase our proceeds and bring in better horses,” Brazzell said.

Part of my tour was to go into the judges’ room, where too-close-to-call races are re-watched on a special computer so that a winner can be determined. We were seven floors up, so the view was breathtaking. I could see the whole track, the paddocks and the public area below, where families gathered to eat and enjoy the races.

Lone Star Park at Grand Prairie is open seven days a week. Parking is free (except for special events) and admission is $5 per person.

Editor’s Corner: Officer’s death is another blow to kindness and compassion for others

By Stacey Doud

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Castaneda

A Grand Prairie police officer, AJ Castaneda, age 38, was killed around 10:30am on June 7 while checking radar speeds on the shoulder of the George Bush Turnpike. A 17-year-old driver hit the officer’s vehicle and the officer fell off of the overpass onto the lower highway, about 20 feet below. He died at an Arlington hospital about 30 minutes later.

The person who came upon the accident and reported it was an officer from another city. He had the brains to get into Castaneda’s patrol car and radio directly to Castaneda’s agency in Grand Prairie to let them know what was going on.

I’ve been a law enforcement supporter for many years now, simply because I know I could not to that job, so I admire those that can.

In today’s climate, I often get criticized for supporting the cops; however, I am not a blind follower. I realize that there are bad apples in the policing field, just as in any area of employment. I feel shame when I hear about a cop abusing his or her privileges as peacekeepers.

That being said, I attended a candlelight vigil for Castaneda on June 9, which was held in front of Grand Prairie’s Public Safety Building.

I had never met Castaneda, but when something tragic like this happens, I like to lend my support, even if it’s providing another warm body at an event.

I got there a bit early and parked. As I walked up to the gathering spot, I was overwhelmed with the crowd. Literally hundreds of people, young and old, showed up to pay respects to this officer that I knew nothing about.

As I listened to the speakers, I came to understand that Castaneda was an exceptional officer. He raised money to provide meals every Thursday to the youth of an impoverished neighborhood in Grand Prairie. He saved the life of a choking baby. He earned medals and awards too countless to list.

The question everyone asks themselves when a good person dies popped into my head: Why him? Why him and not the cop that sits in the back of a parking lot all day or night watching movies? But does anyone’s life count “more” than another’s?

The wind was blowing pretty hard that night, and the candles wouldn’t stay lit. The chief suggested that folks turn on the flashlights on their phones instead. What resulted was a beautiful sea of light to honor this exceptional officer.

I cried and cried – not because I knew Castaneda – but because yet another person who had compassion and went above-and-beyond had been taken way too soon. Those traits are hard to find these days.

Remember when customer service existed everywhere? Remember when employees cared about your experiences in their stores? Remember when people would stop to help other folks in distress?

Those days are long gone, and so to lose someone who loved his job, had compassion for his fellow human beings and went farther than necessary to give a helping hand to people he didn’t even know was just another blow to the things we used to cherish, and want to cherish again.

RIP AJ Castaneda. End of Watch: June 7, 2019

They’ll take it from here, brother.

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North Texas Couple Tells Stories ‘Behind the Texas Badge’ in New Book

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AC Christy Martinez (Published Tuesday, July 24, 2018; NBCDFW)

Behind every badge is a story about the person who wears it.

One North Texas couple went across the state to gather those stories for their new book, aptly named “Behind the Texas Badge.”

For Grand Prairie Assistant Police Chief Christy Martinez, that story was born from a desire to be a force for good after a brush with tragedy at 16 years old.

“I hope to bring the same type of energy — a sense of hope that was quickened to me that particular night,” Martinez said.

Read more from NBCDWF…