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The Black Church Is Where She Found Her Voice. Now She Wants Her Son To Have The Same.

02092021_Denita Quinn Portraits_KC-2.jpg
Keren Carrión
DeNita Lacking-Quinn has attended Friendship-West Baptist Church in Dallas for the last 4 years.

About four years ago, Dallas resident DeNita Lacking-Quinn attended services for the first time with her family at Friendship-West Baptist Church. Not only did she feel the spiritual magic, her son did too.

"It was like his birthday. And he said, 'Mom, I want to join Friendship-West,'" said Lacking-Quinn, who grew up in Oak Cliff.

"The church is a building, and it is within us," Lacking-Quinn said. "Everyone feels like home here."

Illustration that imitates stained glass with Black figures standing outside a small church.
KERA is exploring the impact and legacy of Black churches on life in North Texas. Immerse yourself in stories, history and memories from across the region.

Lacking-Quinn says the Black church has utterly shaped her whole life. In her experience, politics and social issues have always been intertwined with the Black church. At her childhood church, New Mount Moriah Missionary Baptist Church, Lacking-Quinn first became a voter.

"I was able to be a pillar in the community," said Lacking-Quinn. "And as a kid, you don't think that you can be a pillar in the community because you're a kid, right?"

"I was able to be a pillar in the community. And as a kid, you don't think that you can be a pillar in the community because you're a kid, right?"
DeNita Lacking-Quinn

New Mount Moriah would also host block walking, teach their church members about candidates that were on the ballot and had field trips to Austin "to fight for a community that didn't have clean water didn't have resources."

Every time election season comes around, candidates make their rounds and visit the congregation.

"I don't think that I would have had that introduction into politics if it wasn't for church. As a kid, that was the first time I ever met a congresswoman or congressman or a senator that was running," she said.

As a member of Friendship-West, Lacking-Quinn met former President Barack Obama. She asked him about his platform and his efforts to getting youth involved in civil service — something that's very important to her.

Lacking-Quinn says the Black church has opened the doors to her heart to "serve the community and lead with empathy."

Now as a mother, Lacking-Quinn wants the same for her children. That's why when her son fell in love with Friendship-West four years ago, she knew this was her family's new home.

"He felt he found his voice. And as a parent, that's all you want is for your kids to find their voice," said Lacking-Quinn. "And I always had a voice at church."

Got a tip? Alejandra Martinez is a Report For America corps member and writes about the impact of COVID-19 on undeserved communities for KERA News. Email Alejandra at You can follow Alejandra on Twitter @alereports.

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