Longtime community leader honored with MLK award

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WACO, Texas (KWTX) A local community leader who has focused on race relations and helping the poor throughout his decades-long career serving the community has been presented with a Martin Luther King, Jr. Award for his efforts.

Mission Waco founder Jimmy Dorrell (left) was presented with the MLK Empowerment Community Award by Global Revive organization. (Courtesy photo)

Mission Waco founder Jimmy Dorrell was presented with the MLK Empowerment Community Award by Global Revive organization, a nonprofit in Waco founded in 2014, at the group’s annual Empowerment Banquet at the Multi-Purpose facility on Elm Avenue.

“As part of our mission for the last 30 years, Mission Waco and Church Under the Bridge have stood up against the racism in our city and lamented past atrocities, like the hanging of Jesse Washington in Waco in 1916. Last night was humbling, to receive recognition as a white guy for doing what should be nothing out of the ordinary for those of us who are called by God as followers of Jesus to "the ministry of reconciliation."

"It was such a privilege to see Alvin Taylor, who I coached Little League with 30 years ago in the poorest league; to be with LaRue Dorsey, an amazing 87 year-old leader in our city; to be with Norman Manning, a faithful Waco ISD trustee, Pastor Carl Oliver, and with Kay and Virgil Bell, who work and pray for our community,” Dorrell said.

Dorrell grew up white in a segregated community and said it was when he was a young youth pastor in Waco that he began to have his eyes opened to his own prejudice.

It started when Dewey Pinckney, a local pastor, one-time Waco city councilman, and head of the NCAAP, called Dorrell and asked him to come help with a vacation bible school at St. Mary's Baptist Church in what was known as “No Man’s Land,” an incorporated area between Waco and Bellmead.

“That began a journey for me that turned my life around,” Dorrell said.

“Instead of coming out of that racist mindset that I had grown up in, I began to get convicted about my own prejudice and learning how to break from that and grab folks that needed to be outside of their own bubble. “

“That experience began a journey of change that continues even today.”

Dorrell and his wife and young family moved into a predominately African American neighborhood in North Waco, which the couple has called home for 42 years.

Dorrell founded Mission Waco more than 25 years ago with the goal of empowering the poor, mobilizing middle class Christians toward “hands-on” involvement and addressing systemic issues which disempower the poor.

Dorrell also serves as lead pastor at “Church Under the Bridge” where homeless people gather to worship on Sunday mornings at first under an overpass of 1-35 and most recently at the Magnolia Silo grounds after construction left them looking for a new home.

“Martin Luther King, Jr. is one of my heroes,” Dorrell said.

“I love MLK day because what he stood for,” Dorrell said.

“And to do it with nonviolence in the face of internal and external pressure.”

“King’s legacy was way beyond black.”