Key to City Revisited

With Leppert chasing Senate dreams and mayoral candidates battling to woo voters, the city of Dallas now rests in the hands of acting mayor, Dwayne Caraway until June.  But Caraway still seems to be in the doghouse with many Dallasites.  His decision to award Michael Vick a $25 ceremonial key to the city pitted former Mayor Leppert against him, received little support from his fellow councilmembers and raised outcry and backlash throughout the city.  Though later apologizing for any offense his decision may have caused, Caraway vigorously defended his selection of Vick as a celebration of the power of redemption and second chances.  He maintained that a “great majority” of people agreed with him and that “in the eyes of many people, he’s a hero.”

This claim seemed to meet nothing but smirks of disbelief and sarcasm until last Wednesday, when Ester Davis took the microphone to thank Caraway for selecting Vick at the City Council Meeting.  As hushed gasps rounded the Council Chambers, Davis stated “the key is symbol of greater Dallas, not an elite group.”  She emphasized that Vick’s troubled past and public second chance made him a perfect role model for youth within Caraway’s constituency, many of whom don’t have squeaky backgrounds or perfect records.  They, like Vick, are people who have made mistakes and stumbled at times.  The key was to honor Vick’s turnaround: “Since making some bad choices, Michael Vick has devoted time to speaking to children about staying in school, staying away from drugs, making positive choices about picking friends, and the importance of education,” Caraway said, according to The Huddle. “For those reasons, Michael Vick deserves such an action from my office.”

Davis, who has done extensive work with youth in South Dallas through organizing debutantes and black pageants and now serves on the Chair of Senior Affairs for the City, agreed: “The youth in South Dallas need something to grab their attention. . .something to inspire them.”  It seems the dissent boiled down to the differing definitions of a hero: Most of the criticism throughout the city centered on Vick’s status as a convicted felon and formerly incarcerated person.  But is a hero solely someone who has always traveled the straight and narrow, someone who’s never had a blemish or stain on his or her record?  Or is the true hero someone who has erred but changed?  While most seem to believe the former, Davis says “a certain group of Dallas agreed with [Caraway] and felt that the key was appropriate.”  Last Wednesday before all of City Hall, she represented that group.

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