By Louie T. McClain
While some may call it “cliché” to live in the city you were born and raised in, I call it a blessing and a dream come true. West Arlington is where I live and it is also the side of town I dreamed of living in as a kid. I mean, why wouldn’t I want to be near the peace and tranquility that Lake Arlington brings? Why wouldn’t I want to be next door to Veteran’s Park, known for its frisbee golfing course and elaborate hiking trails? West Arlington has always been my dream city.
I was born at Arlington Memorial and grew up in South Arlington. There, in my suburban neighborhood, I was able to taste the sweet flavor of Arlington’s melting pot. As the second-most diverse city in Texas, I enjoyed growing up with and learning from different cultures and races of people who made Arlington their home. Not only is race a key to Arlington’s diversity, but socio-economic diversity is also a part of Arlington’s mixed bag of greatness.
Honestly, growing up as a kid in suburban Arlington, one doesn’t know whether to gravitate toward the fast-talking Dallas professional or the steady-paced Fort Worth business mogul. Luckily for me, I found hope from my first mentor, Craig Cole, a former arena football player who taught at my high school at the time. Craig was an African-American male from West Arlington who graduated from Martin High School, received a bachelor’s degree from Abilene Christian University and played football for a few seasons until he sustained a knee injury that halted his career.
I met Craig as a substitute teacher, but he came to be the man who lightened my life with hope and encouragement, helped me see that there was more to live for in life and became the reason why I dedicated my life to helping troubled youth. I was a troubled youth who came to admire a beautiful reflection that was embodied in my mentor, Craig. So, there you have it! It doesn’t take much for me to identify a thing and make it a goal. East Arlington was on a decline as far as positive culture was concerned and South Arlington was certainly heading in the same direction.
Since a man from West Arlington changed my life, I knew that I wanted to experience raising my family there, too. I thought, “Maybe my kids will have a fighting chance at success someday just as Craig did.” Today, my daughter attends the highest-rated public school in Arlington’s public school district, but there’s so much more to Arlington than just the realization of a dream. We’re home to the Dallas Cowboys, the Texas Rangers and Six Flags Over Texas!
There is never a shortage of fun, excitement or good food in Arlington. I’ve lived in New Castle, Delaware, Pittsburgh, and Pensacola, Florida. All these places have their niche amenities, but none were as vast as Arlington. First, Arlington is 20 to 25 minutes from great vibes and sights in Dallas and Fort Worth. Secondly, we have a consistent roster of cultural events each week in our downtown area (even though we do not have a skyline).
Furthermore, crime and poverty rates are much lower than other booming cities – that is a major win for the city of Arlington. Diversity is commonplace, neighbors dwell in peace and everyone is your friend. My family enjoys walking our dog in the evenings and we enjoy the convenience and abundance of grocery stores and shopping outlets.
Clearly, Arlington holds sentimental value in my heart – it is where my parents migrated to from West Africa and it is where I raise my family and make my living, but if I were to ever move to another city for good… I will never stop singing praises for the city that taught me valuable life lessons and crafted me into a man with great aspirations.
Louie T. McClain is the co-founder of Melanin Origins, a local publishing company that focuses on the accomplishments of historical Black figures.
Total population: 6,628
Female: 51% | Male: 49%
80 and older: 5%
No degree: 6%
High school: 25%
Some college: 35%
Bachelor’s degree: 26%
White: 72% | Asian: 5% | Hispanic: 7% | Black: 12% | Two or more: 2%
Click on the link to view the schools’ Texas Education Agency ratings:
Arlington College and Career High School
Young Junior High
Martin High School
Arlington Classics Academy – Arkansas Campus
Arlington Classics Academy – Intermediate
Bailey Junior High