DALLAS —E verything from chairs to authentic artwork covered the parking lot in front of Pan-African Connection.
“The African art just being thrown on the curb just seemed to belittle our culture. It was if it didn’t mean anything,” owner and organizer Akwete Tyehimba said.
They’ve been operating for 26 years. Now the art gallery, bookstore, and resource center is being evicted from their latest location.
“This is just another step before we go to the promised land. We’ve got your back,” Imani Umoja told Tyehimba.
Folks say this will leave a big hole in the African American community.
“Their family has sacrificed so much for this community,” Pastor Clarence Glover of the First African Freedom Church said.
“This was his vision,” Tyehimba said. [He] passed away three years ago, here in this bookstore as a matter of fact. He passed away three years ago upstairs in the bookstore. We miss him so much,” she said with tears in her eyes. “My landlord was here; he said that he was putting me out. We were trying to work things out, but he said he wanted me to vacate.”
The landlord, who didn’t want to be on camera, told NewsFix the tenants were six months behind rent and that they’d been to court multiple times since July—culminating in an eviction notice from the constable a month ago. He said, "Enough is enough."
Now, Pan-African Connection will re-open in Oak Cliff and are taking donations. Either way, they say, this isn’t the end.
“It turned out to be such a very happy occasion, seeing all of the people in the community come together and support us. By the end of the day, we turned that negative into a positive. We’re not closing, we’re just making a transition,” Tyehimba smiled. “As long as they want us to be here, we’ll be here.”
Donations can be made at the MLK Chase Bank location or on their gofundme page, Keep Pan African Connection Open.