If you talk to South Oak Cliff High School alumni you know Saturday’s culmination in Arlington was about so much more than just the first football state title in school history.
Horace Bradshaw knows.
Bradshaw played football at SOC in the 1970s, so did his son years later and now his grandson is on the team that claimed the Texas Class 5A-Division II championship with a 23-14 win over Liberty Hill in front of more than 50,000 fans at AT&T Stadium.
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As head of the SOC booster club, Bradshaw was an outspoken supporter of student-led walkouts in December 2015 over poor conditions at the school.
The Dallas Independent School District listened. Two bond packages and $52 million later, the renovated SOC campus welcomed students back in January 2020.
Even amid a pandemic, the turnaround in student performance had already started too, with SOC garnering academic distinctions from the TEA in 2018 and 2019.
Players on the SOC football team this year carry an average GPA of 3.2.
“If you give us the equipment we need – the resources we need – we can compete with anybody on any level,” Bradshaw said. “If you can do it to the school campus, you can do it in the neighborhood as well.”
And it spread – specifically across East Overton Road on the north side of the campus.
Harrison Blair is on the Dallas Park and Recreation Board for Council District 4 which encompasses much of southeast Oak Cliff and Cedar Crest.
“The school inspired this park,” Blair said.
Yes, that student-led protest in 2015 also cast an unmistakable light on a dumping ground across the street from SOC that students had to navigate on a daily basis.
“When they brought the energy and they did what adults should have already been doing then we have to support them,” Blair said.
That support led to what is now Renaissance Park, a state-of-the-art $2.5 million facility that includes a basketball court, rock climbing, and ties into the recently opened Honey Springs-Cedar Crest Trail.
Renaissance Park opened just last month – just in time for kids to have a safe outdoor green space to play during Christmas break.
“We hope that we see more community developments that really focus on what residents in Dallas need and that has historically not happened all the time,” Blair said. “I think it is a great way to put more eyes on the southern sector and to showcase the talent that’s here and why we need more investments.”