Shaundale R. Johnson, niece of Bobby Caldwell.
Shaundale R. Johnson, niece of Bobby Caldwell. Photo by Aswad Walker. Credit: Aswad Walker

The late Bobby Caldwell, known affectionately by friends and peers as “The People’s Lawyer,” was recently remembered by local community members and old friends from Dallas, where he attended high school.

The focus of the event, held at SHAPE Community Center’s Almeda location, at 3903 Almeda, 77004, was celebrating Caldwell’s bold commitment to justice, equity and Black empowerment.

Caldwell’s niece and Dallas resident, Shaundale R. Johnson, who recently released a book about her uncle’s life, was on hand for the event. She reflected on how welcoming Caldwell’s Houston friends were to her.

“I am just so grateful that I have been embraced by this community,” said Johnson, who worked directly with Caldwell to write her book, “The People’s Lawyer: A Radical Representation of Change, Courage and Commitment to Civil Rights.”

“I’m so grateful that I got the opportunity to work on this book. It wasn’t my plan. It wasn’t my idea. I think it was just supposed to be,” she added.

The book hit number one in new releases on Amazon.

Kofi Taharka (l) and Shaundale R. Johnson. Photo by Aswad Walker.

Longtime local activist Gayle Wadden (Munirah Olabisi) contributed a song to the event, singing Sweet Honey in the Rock’s “We Who Believe in Freedom” as a tribute to Caldwell’s commitment.

“We who believe in freedom cannot rest. We who believe in freedom cannot rest until it comes

Until the killing of Black men, Black mother’s sons, is as important as the killing of a white man, white mother’s sons,” sand Wadden.

A busload of Dallas residents made the trip to the Bayou City to attend the event they said they wouldn’t miss for the world.

Milton Flowers, president of the Dallas Chapter of the Washington-Lincoln Alumni Association, spoke at the event on behalf of the Dallas contingent.

Along with uplifting Caldwell’s legacy through his commitment as a lawyer to defending young activists during the Civil Rights and Black Power Movements, Flowers talked about how his organization works to keep Caldwell’s legacy alive.

“What we do is, we give scholarships to Black graduating students of the two original Black schools out of Dallas, which is Booker T. Washington High School where Mr. Bobby Caldwell was a student and Lincoln High School where I was a student,” said Flowers. “To date, we have given over $1 million in scholarships. I just want you to know that the work of Mr. Bobby Caldwell has been so magnificent and so strong and so lasting, he is one of the people that made all of this possible for us to still be here and still be operating, doing what we’re doing.”

Several other iconic local activists spoke and/or were inattendance, including Kofi Taharka (National Black United Front), Omowali Lithuli Allen, Deloyd Parker, Akua Holt (KPFT), Dr. Abdul Muhammad (Muslim Mosque #45), and many more, including Caldwell’s longtime friend, Black Panther Party member John Crear.

Crear spoke on Caldwell’s commitment to representing in court local activists during the Civil Rights and Black Power movements, including the TSU Five, UH student protesters and members of SNCC, the Black Panther Party and the People’s Party II, including the late Carl Hampton.

“We were on a Zoom call with my brother Omowali Lithuli (Allen) and Gene Locke, and Gene said, ‘When we got in that trouble at UH, we didn’t know what we were going to do, or who was going to defend us.’ He said, ‘Bobby Caldwell came and found us, and represented us pro bono,’” said Crear of Caldwell’s work representing UH students who were falsely accused of starting a riot while they protested to get their school to found a Black Studies program.

Aswad Walker

I'm originally from Cincinnati. I'm a husband and father to six children. I'm an associate pastor for the Shrine of Black Madonna (Houston). I am a lecturer (adjunct professor) in the University of Houston...