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'Malcolm X Plaza': South Dallas neighbors help transform old lot into community gathering place

Malcolm X Plaza opens with a community celebration this weekend. The events kick off Friday, June 3 at 5 p.m. The plaza will be open from June 3 to Aug. 21.

DALLAS — A group of volunteers is helping to transform an old vacant lot in South Dallas into a community gathering space.

Neighbors are noticing signs of change at the corner of S. Malcolm X Boulevard and Marburg Street in South Dallas. 

“We’ve got a really fun park/plaza concept coming,” said Kristin Leiber, project manager with Better Block Foundation. 

Volunteers were armed with paintbrushes and tools. They’re focused on changing the vacant lot into a colorful community space called Malcolm X Plaza

“We wanted to create a space that’s geared for a lotn of different things,” said Leiber. 

Better Block Foundation, Child Poverty Action Lab, and neighbors are partnering on the project. They’ve identified vacant or neglection lots in high crime areas. Their mission is repurposing them into positive community gathering spaces.

Owen Wilson-Chavez with Child Poverty Action Lab said the group began engaging with neighbors about the plan last fall. 

“One of the things that came to the top were a variety of issues in the community like a lack of access to resources, feeling unsafe walking around the community, feeling unsafe visiting certain types of, or parts of the neighborhood. So, we really thought about how could we create a true community gathering place,” said Wilson-Chavez. 

The Malcolm X Plaza will include pavilions for community groups and vendors, a stage, a basketball court, areas for events, and an air conditioned classroom -- which local businesses and organizations can reserve, among other features. 

“I think it’s a great project,” said Tramonica Brown, Founder of Not My Son – Dallas. 

The nonprofit recently opened an office across the street from Malcolm X Plaza. 

“This project is focused on building more community. More resources. More stability,” said Brown. 

Some neighbors are optimistic Malcolm X Plaza could inspire a walkable community by connecting two commercial districts along the strip. 

“When I saw you guys over here yesterday, I couldn’t do nothing but stop and be nosey,” said Cynthia McCloud. 

The longtime South Dallas resident asked if her family could volunteer after learning about the project and changes happening on the corner. 

“I’m loving what you all are doing. It’s a start, and we are moving things for my neighborhood. I’m so happy to hear this,” McCloud shared with the project organizers. 

Malcolm X Plaza officially opens with a community celebration this weekend. The events kick off Friday, June 3 at 5 p.m. The plaza will be open from June 3 to Aug. 21.

For more information about the project, and to view a schedule of events, visit www.malcolmxplaza.org.

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