Community Leader Bishop Omar Jahwar Honored After Death From COVID-19 Complications

The activist and mentor created a nonprofit group that helped curb gang violence in Dallas for over 20 years.

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People filled the sanctuary of Concord Church in Dallas on Saturday morning to celebrate the life of community leader Bishop Omar Jahwar.

Jahwar, 47, was a pastor, activist and mentor who created a nonprofit group that helped curb gang violence in the city for more than 20 years.

“He changed a lot of people, I mean, a lot of people," Antong Lucky said.

Lucky said he counts himself among them.

The former gang member said he was in jail the first time he saw Jahwar on the news talking about the plans to tackle crime in the neighborhood where Lucky grew up.

Awaiting his release with his own plans to do the same, Lucky knew they needed to meet.

They’d spend the next 20 years working side by side.

Through Vision Regeneration and then Urban Specialists, Jahwar was a violence interrupter.

He trained others to be the same.

“He was a negotiator. He was a translator. He was a transformer,” Lucky said.

Lucky said it’s nearly impossible to sum up the legacy for a man who touched countless lives.

Still, he was able to point to contributions that will never be forgotten.

That includes the hours following the 2016 Dallas police shooting that left five officers dead.

He said Jahwar took officers, the activists who’d planned that night’s protest and clergy into a room. Lucky remembers Jahwar mediating some of the tensest discussions he’s ever seen -- before people on both sides hugged and walked out the door without further conflict.

"I think just the whole dialogue, the conversations we have, the way we engage in this city, Omar's DNA is all over,” Lucky said.

He said a day never went by that he didn't have a conversation with him until October when Jahwar was hospitalized with COVID-19, Lucky said.

“He said, ‘Man I'll be out of here in a week.'"

Instead, he’d spend about two and a half months on a ventilator.

Jahwar pushed through. At one point, Lucky said they were certain he’d be headed home soon.

Thursday, he died of complications related to COVID-19

Though he may be gone, Lucky said his work is far from over.

“I think in the spirit of him, conversations to address those issues, conversations to address the inequities, to address the differences, I think it's going to continue to go,” Lucky said. “He can never die because he's in all of us."

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