By Raven Jordan

Hip hop set the tone of the night for Park South YMCA’s annual campaign kickoff Thursday.
For 2023, the Y has a goal to raise $77,000 by the end of the year to support after school, swim teen, early childhood education and other youth programs.
Dance, art, food and plenty of throwback hits celebrated not only 50 years of hip hop history, but 52 years of Park South’s establishment in South Dallas. In 1970, Dallas Mayor J. Erik. Jonsson matched the community’s funding with his money to build a YMCA.
Annual Campaign Chair Shanay Wise shared how much the Y’s [YMCA’s] programs and how the center impacted her and her sons lives. She’d been taking her son, now 12, to the Y since he was 18 months old.
She never imagined serving on the board until three years ago.
“I have been coming to this Y for 10 years, and when I came, there was an 18-month program. It’s a tough program. But we’ve been here since [my son] was 18 months old, that’s why it means so much to me.”

Shanay Wise points to the new art piece by Oak Cliff artist Armando Aguirre | Photo credit: Rayford Johnson

Before the end of the night, an art piece that Oak Cliff artist Armando Aguirre painted earlier that day was unveiled celebrating the past and future of the center.
“We are so excited as you all are joining us as we kick off this fundraising season,” Rodrigua Ross said. “We are about to embark on this journey of raising $77,000, so that we can provide scholarships to anyone who comes in the door and says they need it because we don’t turn anyone away for inability to pay.”
Dallas Weekly’s own Jess Washington shared a few words on the history and origins of hip hop and how much it’s grown since its inception.

Jess Washington and the Washington children. | Photo credit: Rayford Johnson

“Over time, we have seen hip hop grow, in its infancy from being a little cultural thing that we knew about to a global phenomenon that draws in billions of dollars every year. I’m glad we’re celebrating it here today at the Y.”
Two break dance performers, Taj Campbell and Jessie Brown, went head-to-head in a dance battle performance before longtime supporter and father Sterling Davis shared what the center has meant and provided for three of his daughters.
Unlike him, they know how to swim and learned at the Y, according to Davis.
“Three of our five children have all come through the Pre-K program here, so my wife and I made sure we brought our children over here,” Davis said. “Some of us just don’t know how to swim. My children can swim better than I’ll ever be able to swim because of the programs. Things like that are advantageous.”
King Shakur, the DJ for the night and a community activist, also shared that he wants his son to be able to tell the same stories he’s been telling about Park South years from now.
The hip hop awards went to Y members who either met or exceeded their fundraising goals. This year’s winners:
Artist of the Year James Fleming
Super Producer of the Year David Peterson
Video Director of the Year Shanay Wise
“We’re always looking to impact this community with whatever they need, however we can do it. This place provides that.” Park South Board Chair Maurice West said. More information about the campaign can be found here.

King Shakur and his son, JJ
Rodrigua Ross, Carmen Simms and Maurice West | Photo credit: Rayford Johnson