“Peace and Justice are two strands of the same rope. If you want peace in the world, first you have to work for justice.” (Hadi Jawad, Executive Director of the Dallas Peace and Justice Center)
The Dallas Peace and Justice Center (DPJC), previously referred to as the Dallas Peace Center, was born during a crisis that erupted in Central America during the 1980s. During this time, the countries of Nicaragua and El Salvador were plagued by great turmoil and war. The U.S. was actively involved in supporting various factions of war that directly benefited the agenda of U.S corporations. Born in the cauldron of wars, the DPJC was founded as and has remained an anti-war organization. The DPJC focuses on wars around the world, particularly ones with U.S. involvement, and has opposed every war since 1982.
The DPJC has served as a moral prophetic voice for the DFW area, responding to events that are unfolding at the local, national, and international level. The center advocates for peace and nonviolence, the recognition of human and civil rights and justice for all, and the pursuit of ecological and climate justice. The DPJC gives activists a platform, organizes and participates in educational presentations, promotes nonviolence trainings, meets with elected officials, and initiates public demonstrations to raise awareness.
Additionally, the DPJC is the leading organization in the DFW area that takes a stand against the death penalty. Each time an execution takes place in the State of Texas execution chamber in Huntsville, the DPJC holds a vigil. The center also holds seminars and teach-ins about the rights of prisoners.
The DPJC played a leading role in organizing a campaign for an official apology to the family of Santos Rodriguez, a 12-year-old child who was shot and killed by a Dallas police officer while he sat handcuffed in the back of a police car. Santos and his brother had been arrested for a burglary they did not commit. The city swept the tragedy of Santos’ death under the rug, not embracing or acknowledging that a grave injustice had been done. The DPJC organized a week of events surrounding the 40th anniversary of the shooting, which included a graveside service for Santos, an organized seminar, press releases sent out, and a campaign to push for an official apology from elected officials. The DPJC also collaborated with filmmaker Byron Hunter on a film in recognition of Santos, called Santos Vive. Hundreds of Dallas residents viewed the film on the 45th anniversary of the shooting. This prompted the city to commit $75,000 to build a public art piece dedicated to memorializing the life and legacy of Santos Rodriguez.
The DPJC comprises various committees including the Middle East Peace Committee, Human Rights Group, Nuclear Free World Committee, Environmental Justice Committee, Youth Empowerment Committee, and Death Penalty Abolition Committee. Each committee is inclusive to the public and meets on a regular basis. Members of the committees are trained in advocacy including civil disobedience training and direct action training.
A program distinct to the DPJC is the Young Advocates Program. The DPJC recognizes the need for young activists to develop skills to become efficient policy changers. In a collaboration with the national organization, Friends Committee on National Legislation, the DPJC sends youth between the ages of 18 and 30 to Washington, DC, for a four-day training in advocacy. Training occurs during the first three days and on the fourth day, the students visit Capitol Hill and converse with U.S. senators and members of congress.
The DPJC’s stated mission is “to promote a just and peaceful world through education, dialogue, reconciliation, advocacy, and constructive action.” With their small yet dedicated group of activists, the DPJC continues to transform our society on the local, national, and global level.
“DPJC: About Us.” Dallas Peace and Justice Center, Dallas Peace and Justice Center, https://www.dpjc.org/about-the-dpjc.