community conversations

Community Conversations: Reverend Peter Johnson and The D.O.C. Work to Reach New Generation

Veteran civil rights leader working to reach a new generation

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Since the 1960s Reverend Peter Johnson has been a civil rights activist. He’s been vocal in Dallas on many issues, especially in an effort to remove guns from the street.

Johnson recently found a new ally in rap music artist ‘The D.O.C.,’ a Dallas native also known to his friends as Tracy Curry.

“As long as I’ve been alive he’s been fighting the fight and when I met him I was extremely touched by his approach and I charged myself to do whatever is humanly possible to carry out whatever mission he sees fit,” Curry said.

In Johnson’s early days as an activist, he said he was influenced by people who thought a new generation was coming that would not see color, sexual orientation and religious differences.

“I believed that after the summer of ‘63, we could all go back to college, America would be well and healed from it’s racial, ugly history and we would be finished with this. That’s how naïve I was,” Johnson said. “We are still trying to overcome America’s ugly history of bigotry and the reality that history and slavery has imposed on our people.”

But the veteran civil rights fighter said he is encouraged that the demonstrations he has seen over the Minnesota death of George Floyd suggest the dreams of his youth may come true.

“That generation is here. When I see Harlem in New York to Watts in Los Angeles, young people, Black, White, Brown, Yellow, and Red, working together, eating tear gas together, facing rubber bullets together, the generation that Ralph Abernathy told me was coming is here. So, for me, it’s a breath of fresh air. We have a long, long way to go, but there is a wonderful, wonderful new generation in America,” Johnson said.

Curry is working with Johnson to reach the new generation.

“I’m trying to get the young folks to understand that in this day and time, we cannot be our own worst enemies, that we really have to find some respect for one another and understand that we are in a period of transition,” Curry said.

One joint mission is Johnson’s gun buyback program. 

“When we go up against police brutality, killing of our children by police, we must not ignore the bloodshed and the gunplay and the gun violence in our community of blacks killing blacks,” Johnson said.

Over more than 30 years, Johnson said his program has removed more than 20,000 firearms from the street.

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