Estrus Tucker

Gentle Activist

Estrus Tucker was born and still lives in Como. He attended Como High School until 1971 when Fort Worth desegregated the schools and closed all but one of the four black high schools. He graduated from Western Hills. He attended Chaminade College in Hawaii while he was in the Army and UT-Arlington later. He is president and CEO of Liberation Community Inc. and on the national board of Courage and Renewal.

What led to your involvement in housing and other issues? My life is shaped by the integrity and values modeled in a mother-led home, my simple faith in God and a democracy of the people, by the people, for the people and growing up and still living in a close-knit, civically active community, where our shared well-being depended on our collective voice, collective action and shared responsibility for one another. These influences led to commitment to practices that honor and extend kindness and compassion to all human beings, respectfully questions authorities and advocates for the least privileged and most marginalized.

How did Liberation Community come about? In 1983 two seminary students, Bryan Stone and David Sabine from the Church of the Nazarene, interviewed several community leaders, including me, about their vision and ideas for a “compassionate” inner city ministry. This grassroots initiative would be funded initially as a domestic mission drawing financial and volunteer support from regional Nazarene Church membership and the community at large. … Liberation Community combined City of Fort Worth and City of Arlington Community Development Block Grant funds, HUD, Department of Labor, local foundations, donations and service fees to develop and manage a ... program that resulted in more than 500 first-time homeownerships for residents not typically seen as viable candidates. In 1997, after concluding that Liberation Community had succeeded at being a catalyst for private sector low-income housing development and realizing that the city-based nonprofit partnerships were not sustainable or compatible with our mission, we discontinued new development. ...  Most of Liberation Community Inc.’s programs and services are now dormant as we reorganize our core services.

What do you see lacking in revitalization efforts in lower-income communities? Often what is most lacking is a sense of dignity and respect for the recipients in the service delivery system and a quality of customer service comparable to more affluent populations. Low to moderate diverse communities are often the target of exploitation enterprises — subprime lending, rent-to-own, rent-a-tire, payday loans, pawn shops, etc. — that have now become more mainstreamed and acceptable. The subprime mortgage exploitation that contributed to our recession was perfected in low-income communities like Poly.

What is your involvement with Courage and Renewal and what is that program? Courage and Renewal is a movement that helps people connect who they are with what they do in ways that lead to personal and professional renewal, vocational vitality, civic engagement and community transformation. Initially, Courage and Renewal’s focus was educators, primarily K through 12 teachers, and so in 1998, I joined a few other leaders in supporting a local initiative as a debt of gratitude to local teachers.

But it didn’t stop there, did it? I concluded that the intrinsic and practical value of the Courage and Renewal approach was equally applicable to other professions and all persons. My facilitation work expanded to include educators, clergy, nonprofit leaders, civic leaders, business leaders, elected officials, lawyers and grassroots leaders locally and around the country.

Where is Liberation Community headed? In the spirit of our original mission, Liberation Community Inc. is exploring the best organizational model to facilitate respectful dialogue, community/adult basic education and civic engagement, with an emphasis on low- to moderate-income persons of all colors, leading to a more equitable, productive and inclusive society. My hope is to be a support, a voice and a catalyst for welcoming, embracing and engaging a diversity of people to advance the beloved community that Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. dreamed of, worked toward and died for, in Fort Worth, Texas, and the world.