Through his nonprofit, For Oak Cliff, Xavier Henderson works to liberate his Southern Dallas Community from systematic oppression through education, advocacy and community building.
Inequality runs deep in Oak Cliff, a Dallas community where Black people liberated from slavery settled post-Civil War, and the KKK built a meeting hall a few decades later. It's now one of the unhealthiest areas in Dallas and has the highest incarceration rate in Texas, but Xavier Henderson is building a brighter future with For Oak Cliff. He and Taylor Toynes, both Oak Cliff natives and alumni of the University of North Texas and Teach From America, started a Back to School Festival in 2015 to provide resources to neighborhood students. In 2020, they co-founded the For Oak Cliff nonprofit to address the systemic issues in their community. With Henderson as director of strategy, the organization launched programs for physical and mental health, college counseling, a community garden, and education for all ages. Recently, For Oak Cliff gave out 1.3 million pounds of food during the pandemic and expanded to a 10-acre campus. Although his work has earned recognition by 2020 Echoing Green Fellowship and 2021 Forbes' 30 Under 30 Social Impact List, Henderson defers to the people of Oak Cliff to direct their efforts. "We involve the whole community in the choices we make and the strategies for how we enact our initiatives," he said. "How many efforts are being led by beneficiaries? There's power here, and it doesn't just stop with us. It enables so many more people from our neighborhood to get involved."