Mollie Finch Belt is the publisher of The Dallas Examiner, an African American weekly paper featuring an in depth look at local community news. She joined us for a discussion on Dallas history, education, and the African American community.
February 25, 2016
TFA: How have you experienced changes in the black community over your lifetime, particularly in education?
MFB: Although it was difficult growing up during segregation, there was a unity among the black community. We worked together toward a common goal. Teachers were especially dedicated to the goal of educating our children, because no one else was going to. Regardless of income or status, we were all in the same boat, and it made us come together. We lived, worked, and played together. Integration changed things
because that dedication to a community is no longer required. I don’t see the same goal in all of our teachers, and young people don’t have the same desire to go into education. Today, one problem I see is that we don’t have many young leaders in the black community anymore. For many young people, once they go to college and move on to corporate America, they leave their old communities behind. To a certain degree, we have allowed this to draw a wedge in our community. We don’t all feel united anymore.
TFA: What do you think it takes to improve our schools?
MFB: Right now, we’re graduating kids who aren’t ready for college. Even in the first grade, they’re not ready. We have to go back to the beginning. I think it starts with early childhood education and educating the whole family.
TFA: What is one piece in The Dallas Examiner that had a big impact?
MFB: Years ago, my husband came up with this idea to publish the names of everyone who voted. We called it the Voter Roll Call. We also had a Celebrity Corner with key local officials, so you could pick up the paper and see who had voted. People were always running to grab it! When that paper would come off the press, it would create a ripple effect in voter participation.
TFA: In 10 years, where do you see The Dallas Examiner?
MFB: I would want a full staff of reporters—enough to have each of them assigned to beats: Dallas City Council, government, education, etc. I would also want investigative reporters because we know there are stories that need to be told, and we need people who are dedicated to covering them. In ten years, I want this paper to still exist, and I’d like our readership to increase significantly. Currently we print 10,000 newspapers a week and our readership is 40,000.
TFA: If you were to sit down with Mayor Rawlings and City Council, what would you say to them?
Keep trying. Don’t give up on the southern sector. It’s going to take all of us working together to solve problems.