Adam McKinney Remarks at Historic and Cultural Landmarks Commission Hearing, July 8, 2019
Good afternoon. My name is Adam McKinney and I am an Assistant Professor of dance at Texas Christian University. I am here as the Co-Director of DNAWORKS, a Fort Worth-based arts and service organization committed to healing through the arts and dialogue.
First, I would like to respectfully acknowledge all Native American peoples who have lived on this land since time immemorial.
I look to the ways in which our city is both committed to and challenged by racial equity. We are at a wonderful and particular time in history when we, as a city, get to “get it right” when it comes to racism in our country. I am inspired by the work of our city’s Mayor’s Task Force on Race & Culture and the myriad ways in which Fort Worth communities have publicly voiced our dedication to these issues. I share my thoughts today as a collaborative offering to accelerate and scale up our joint goals – within our city, our region, our nation, and our world.
I would like to offer an alternative to demolition of the building at 1012 N. Main Street
DNAWORKS, which has a 14-year track record of successful national and international leadership in social justice and the arts, has a clear vision and plan for transforming the building into an international center for performing arts and community healing, thereby also transforming a history of hate and injustice into a present and future of healing, peace and community.
The center will offer programming that reflects our city’s commitment to equity, access and opportunity. It will also house an educational wing, which be used to train people of all ages in theories and practices of peace, reconciliation, and restorative justice. DNAWORKS has already received communications from national and international organizations who are interested in presenting their work in the transformed building. Additionally, a generous individual has offered to donate an artifact from the Holocaust to be placed in the building’s proposed educational wing once completed.
Never in the history of Texas, nor in our country, has a former Ku Klux Klan building been transformed in such a way. Thus, Fort Worth has an exceptional opportunity to lead and model our commitment to equity through arts innovation.
There will be many incentives, not the least of which will be:
- positive national and global attention;
- our heightened profile in the area of racial and economic equity;
- increased tourism, economy and business investments; and
- an increased number of jobs available to artists and other workers in our city.
As a city, we need to harness this particular moment in time to turn this building into a jewel of Fort Worth, as opposed to demolishing a building with a very troubled past. And it will be because of the transformation of the building and the transformation of us as a city that people will be interested in and will want to come to Fort Worth. I believe that it behooves us a city to be the national and global frontrunner of civic transformation and mobilization in this way.
Given the application for the certificate of appropriateness, I suggest that the demolition of the building at 1012 N. Main Street is inappropriate because it means that a history of violence will be forgotten. And when we forget to remember, it allows for the possibility of violence to be reconstructed and repeated. Thus, I advocate for the full 180-day delay of demolition.
And we must never forget to remember Mr. Fred Rouse who was lynched two miles from here by members of the Ku Klux Klan on December 11, 1921. This means that it is our responsibility as a city to look back together to remember, so that we cease to be complicit.
At this time, I would like introduce the great nephew of Mr. Fred Rouse – Mr. Robert Rouse, who would like to share a few words.