To honor the life and achievements of civil rights activist and congressman John Lewis, a new middle school in Oak Cliff will be named after him. The John Lewis Social Justice Academy will be built at the current O.W. Holmes Middle School.
Prior to the announcement at a district news conference, members of the school and surrounding community went for a peaceful march to symbolize John Lewis’ legacy.
South Dallas has been the center of many upgrades to local campuses. However, some schools were not getting the attention they needed.
Dallas ISD board trustee Maxie Johnson was one of the individuals advocating for change at the O.W Holmes campus.
“We have been fighting for equity here in the southern part of Dallas, and today — with the help of our superintendent and administration — we have accomplished another goal,” Johnson said. Johnson and other activists have been passionate about bringing improvements to the campus, with 98% of students being classified as “economically disadvantaged.”
“When you are talking about equity in the African American community, this is what this looks like,” Johnson stated. He is hopeful the school will bring more opportunity to African American students who in the past were “disenfranchised and lacked resources.”
The O.W Holmes campus holds around 700 students as of the 2021-2022 year. The new campus is expected to be finished and open to students as early as 2024.
Although not currently part of the design, district members are pushing to include a new concept with the campus. The John Lewis school could potentially be a community center serving residents of Oak Cliff. The school will also be a feeder to the nearby Roosevelt High School.
Receiving input from the community is crucial for the school’s design, the district says. Dallas ISD Superintendent Michael Hinojosa said excitedly, “It’s going to be a beautiful building in a few years.”