Grand Prairie celebrated harmony between the community and the police department during the 4th annual Hoopin’ for History Charity basketball game hosted at the Dalworth Recreation Center on Thursday, Feb. 15.
The event included speeches from Reverend Preston Dixon, senior pastor of Mt. Gilead Missionary Baptist Church, and Christy Martinez, the Grand Prairie Assistant Police Chief; dance performances by local schools, as well as a charity basketball game between members of the Dalworth community and the Grand Prairie Police Department.
“[The event] encompasses unity and encompasses community. [It is] something special for the community to come out and enjoy,” said Monte Whetstone, the manager of the rec center. “So much is happening with the police and individuals in different cities and communities. I think this was just birthed out of a lot of those different social issues that different cities face.”
During the event, Dixon spoke of the importance of Black History month.
“If you don’t know where you come from, you don’t know where you’re going,” Dixon said. “If you don’t know your history, you definitely don’t know your destiny.
“We have to remind ourselves that information is education, education is knowledge, knowledge is power. Power to walk with, power to talk with, power to live by, power to treat my neighbor right, and so we need information to help us find our way to our God-given destiny. If you don’t get in your books, if you do not go to school, if you do not learn, if you do not educate yourself, you’re going to be on the brink of becoming extinct.”
Martinez presented a message about the importance of people coming together in trying social times.
“It is about the community coming together in unity, one accord, one body, one people,” Martinez said. “I do believe if we all came together to tackle the issues in society, there could be a renewing of hope, a renewing of spirit.”
The crowd cheered on their fellow community members as the Dalworth team ran up and down the floor and won the game 68-50.
During halftime, Whetstone recognized Trena James with the same t-shirt worn by the Dalworth team as well as a plaque. James served as manager of the rec center for 30 years before he was forced to retire due to a heart condition. James spoke about her struggles, and how she was able to receive a heart transplant. The basketball court is now named after her.
“I came here to pay tribute to my friend Trena James,” Lorenzo Lewis said. “I’ve been coming here since I was 12. I’m 53 now, and she’s always been here.
“It’s good to see the officers coexisting with the youngsters in our community.”
Whetstone spoke glowingly of the Grand Prairie police department.
“They all have the same heart for the community,” Whetstone said. “They all have the same heart for the city, for bridging that gap, for reaching out, for being a voice of positivity especially when you have all these different issues that we hear about on the news with police and the community. I feel like pretty much every officer they have hired has that same heart, so that’s why you have officers who are volunteering their time to play in a police game.
“Not only that, but we have things throughout the year where the police come out and hang with us, and we try to do the same thing when they have events. It’s a great relationship with the community and the police department.
“I think it’s very important to have these type of events because they show number one that they’re still humans, and that they have a side that’s vulnerable just like anybody else,” Whetstone said. “Just because they have a bullet proof vest on, doesn’t mean it stops everything. Just because they wear a gun on their side, doesn’t mean that they’re eager to pull it on anyone who gets on their nerves.”
“The importance is bringing the community together, officers and the young community because the youth is where it’s at,” Lewis said. “Without that youth we wouldn’t have anything.”