“I’m sitting back, checking out things,” he said. As president of the West Irving Community Organization, he had a share in reviving the tradition of celebrating the anniversary of June 19, 1865, the day in history when slaves in Texas learned of their emancipation.
“We can be proud of being part of the Bear Creek community,” Rogers said. “Last night we had a blues band perform here, and today I think we’ll have about 800 people come out.
“The City of Irving has been helping us out. They set up a bounce house for the kids. We’re renovating down here and we have the community programs like meals and activities for the kids.
“[Former Irving City Councilwoman] Jackie Townsell was my aunt. I went to Davis, Crockett and Irving High and then I worked for the school district. Now I have my own towing company here. I’m raising my kids here in Bear Creek, too.
“I’m also president of the Bear Creek Riders, and we’re going to have a trail ride come through here later. We had always done everything in Dallas, but I said this year, let’s try Irving. If it goes well, we’ll be back next year.”
A short distance away, two long-time friends were busy catching up. Sharon Sweat and Makini Shakur both grew up in Bear Creek, and Sharon’s husband James, along with his brother Elmer, is active with the Bear Creek Buffalo Soldiers Youth Organization.
Each has deep roots through their families, always returning to Bear Creek no matter where else they may go.
“We’re right in the center of the universe here,” said Shakur, who had lived in Jefferson, TX before coming home. “We’re on the Tarrant County line. We’re on the Dallas County line. We’re just five miles from the DFW Airport.
“But we’re off the beaten path, too. My parents still have enough property out here, that they can have horses. Part of the trail ride later will be on our place.
“We’re glad to be of service. That’s what this community is like. Our word is bond. I would not want to be anywhere else.”
Sweat echoed that sentiment. Her husband’s family is part of the community’s heritage. One of her sons was the first black youth to serve as a mascot at Irving High School, while a daughter had been the first black drum major there.
“One of the most fascinating things about Bear Creek,” she reflected. “You know, you usually lose some of your traditions when you make a transition into a new area. But we’re remembering our traditions. We’re retaining our culture.”
As a new band began setting up on stage, white and black performers trading licks, the breeze freshened and the crowds poured in.
“Our doors are open for the community,” JD told me as I joined the throng. “I’m a young man, but I’m just trying to follow in the footsteps of my aunt.