DALLAS — Thousands of people packed the street along Marsalis Avenue for a parade to cheer on the South Oak Cliff High School Golden Bears on Tuesday.
Parents, fans and supporters celebrated the football team for its 2021 UIL 5A-Division II state championship win.
“Everybody came out to support us,” said SOC quarterback Kevin Henry-Jennings as he looked out into the crowd of spectators.
The one-mile parade was a defining moment for Dallas ISD, the city of Dallas, and South Oak Cliff High School.
“Once we made it to playoffs, we all just realized, hey, we could do it. And we wanted to do it. All of us wanted to do it,” said football player Dennis Jones.
The team and many of it supporters described reaching the historic milestone is a win for the community and for the city of Dallas.
“Everybody doubted us to be this far. We proved them wrong and got this far,” Henry-Jennings explained.
The journey getting this far to a state championship had its challenges. Just a few years ago, SOC students walked out of school in protest of conditions on campus.
Leaking classroom ceilings, mold, and rodents were among problems students complained they experienced at the time. The community helped fight for more funding to build a brand new school.
Even during a pandemic, parents and teachers were committed to helping students stay focused.
“It’s been so hard. They had to sacrifice so much. People don’t know that they didn’t even practice on this field until recently. They were at another place,” said parent Leonesea Morgan.
In addition to investing in a new, state-of-the-art school, Dallas ISD also invested in a new football field at SOC’s campus. It’s a turf football field that’s making a big difference.
”It was simply about educational equity. Community members and leaders wanting the same thing in our community, south of 30, as other communities north of 30,” explained Derrick Battie of the SOC Alumni Bear Cave.
The wins with South Oak Cliff High School are about more than what the football team proved it can do on the football field. SOC students are also winning in the classroom. The school’s earned several academic distinctions.
”We said bring resources to the Black and Brown community, in the southern sector. And once we got the resources we’ll show you that we can perform. And that’s what you’re see today, equity being displayed. We are winning in District 5,” said Dallas ISD Trustee Pastor Maxie Johnson.
As the city of Dallas celebrates SOC and the investment in and around that school and community, some say its celebrating a story of perseverance and a community coming together.
"I want people to know love is captured in this moment, and we’re going to keep the love forever,” Morgan said.