Dallas firefighters are honoring the life of the man who broke the department’s color barrier.
Kenneth Parker became Dallas Fire-Rescue’s first black firefighter in 1969 after the federal government mandated that the city hire black firefighters. He passed away Tuesday from heart failure at the age of 70.
Those who knew him say the 29-year veteran’s legacy is still felt today. He fought through racial challenges and was even fired twice in what Calvin Berry, DFR’s second black firefighter, said were racially-motivated incidents. He later sued and received back pay from the department. His fight paved the way for black firefighters in fire stations across the city. He served as mentors for young firefighters and showed them how to find their way in a world that they had only recently been let in to.