Rev. Kyev Tatum speaks to attendees during the African American Church Roundtable Breakfast on Feb. 17, 2023, at New Mount Rose Missionary Baptist Church. ( Juan Salinas II | Fort Worth Report)

The Ministers Justice Coalition of Texas is helping to lay the groundwork to help change the trajectory of Fort Worth’s 76104 ZIP code, an area that has among the lowest life expectancy in Texas.

In a yellow room inside the New Mount Rose Missionary Baptist Church, the coalition gathered roughly 40 people to begin the work to lift up the historically Black community. Improving education and safety and drawing more business to this neighborhood, also known as Morningside, could boost the quality of life, residents said.

Rev. Kyev Tatum is part of the coalition. He wants the federal government to step in and help.

During a trip to the nation’s capital, Tatum connected with Maggie Siddiqi, a faith-based and neighborhood partnerships director for the U.S. Department of Education. 

Siddiqi was the featured speaker at the coalition’s Feb. 17 meeting. She spoke about the federal funding available to Morningside. While nothing has been awarded yet, Tatum thinks this is a great opportunity. 

Representatives of the Fort Worth economic development team and Mayor Mattie Parker attended the recent meeting, which surprised Tatum. One of the biggest challenges for the Ministers Justice Coalition of Texas is getting resources from the city, he said. 

“It’s always about who will give us access to the capital we need,” Tatum said. “You would think a pandemic would change the city’s thinking.” 

Attendees applauding U.S. Department of Education Center for Faith-based and Neighborhood the African American Church Roundtable Breakfast on Feb. 17, 2023. ( Juan Salinas II | Fort Worth Report )

Mark Cunningham is an assistant professor at the University of North Texas Health Science Center at Fort Worth. He is researching solutions to help Morningside. He showcased the Morningside Promise Zone during the discussion.

“The goal of the project is to help the overall health of this community,” Cunningham said. 

Fort Worth resident Shallie Bey has lived in Morningside for a decade. The two main issues for Bey are that the area lacks access to high-quality and healthy food and business opportunities. 

Bey sees Morningside as physically separated from the resources his community needs. Access to better food and to quality health care lie just west of Interstate 35, he said. On a map, those resources appear close. However, residents have to walk around I-35 to access the bare necessities, he said.

Although Robin Jocyen lives in Haltom City, she is invested in improving Morningside. She was thrilled to see engagement from different communities of Fort Worth. 

“It’s beautiful to see all the communities coming together because we recognize that we need to improve our area,” Jocyen said. 

Juan Salinas II is a reporting fellow for the Fort Worth Report. Contact him at or on Twitter. At the Fort Worth Report, news decisions are made independently of our board members and financial supporters. Read more about our editorial independence policy here.

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Juan Salinas II

Born and raised in the North Side of Fort Worth. Juan Salinas II is a reporting fellow. He is a Tarrant County College transfer student who is currently studying journalism at the University of Texas at...