Diane Ragsdale saw a problem, she wanted to solve it. She is still working to improve the lives of people living in underserved communities in Dallas, specifically South Dallas and Fair Park.
She said some of the most important influences on her as a child were her mother and family, their church, the YMCA and the NAACP youth council that was led by civil rights activist, Juanita Craft, at the time.
“I was a member of the NAACP youth council. That’s where the movement started for me. That’s where my understanding for this movement and for justice started. It became quite clear to me under her leadership that I had a role to play to promote justice,” Ragsdale said.
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Ragsdale learned that struggle marked the most successful path to creating change and applied that philosophy for the rest of her life. Ragsdale is a registered nurse a former council member and activist and organizer who says she is so proud of the comprehensive history Dallas has to offer.
“It is very rich. I am proud of the many cultural institutions that we have existing that promote African American history and culture,” Ragsdale said. “It’s one thing to have the history, but it’s another to have institutions that promote that ongoing history.”
She made a name for herself in certain areas of Dallas as the primary founder and managing director of the South Dallas/Fair Park Innercity Community Development Corp, a nonprofit that has spent the last 30 years working to improve conditions in neighborhoods with rundown homes, increasing crime and dangerous code violations.
“There is still much work to be done. However, there has been much work done. ICDC has worked with others to improve the living conditions of many,” Ragsdale said.
The ICDC provides residents of South Dallas affordable homeownership, a small business incubator and community education.
“God has provided me with sufficient resources to serve the least of my brother,” Ragsdale said.
Anyika McMillan-Herod with St. Philip’s School and Community Center in Dallas contributed to this report.