We would like to send a “Happy 74th Birthday” wish to Deloyd T. Parker Jr., founder of Houston’s historic S.H.A.P.E Center.
Parker has been the co-founder and executive director of S.H.A.P.E. since 1969. Growing up in Port Arthur, Texas, his parents, Mrs. Ruby Parker and Mr. Deloyd Parker, Sr., instilled in him a sense of humility, a willingness to help, the courage to face adversity, and the strength to fight injustices whenever and wherever it raises its ugly face. Parker worked in the Ujamaa Villages of East Africa and traveled to many countries in the eastern part of Africa, spreading S.H.A.P.E.’s philosophy. His most recent trip to Africa was in the summer of 2000. He went to The Gambia in West Africa where he met with the President of The Gambia and was able to expand relations with the government as well as grassroot community leaders. The initiation of the SHAPE philosophy was embraced by the people of The Gambia and “The S.H.A.P.E. of The Gambia” was born.
Parker, along with countless volunteers, staff and supporters have built S.H.A.P.E. into a comprehensive and holistic community institution. Parker attributes all of these accomplishments, achievements, successes and victories to embracing the Seven Principles of Kwanzaa –Unity, Self-Determination, Collective Work & Responsibility, Cooperative Economics, Purpose, Creativity and Faith.
As one of the most visible and involved centers in Houston’s African American community and the Houston community as a whole, S.H.A.P.E. has led the way toward justice, equal opportunity, and institution building in the city, state, nation and world. Because of its deep commitment to the community, S.H.A.P.E. has actively sought ways to oppose injustice and to better the community for all people.
The community center was founded because Houston’s Civil Rights Movement needed a place that could give birth to the programs, that would give meaning to their protests. Today, S.H.A.P.E is fondly called “The United Nations of the Hood,” for bringing together people of varied affiliations, for the improvement of the community. In S.H.A.P.E, the Pan-African community finds a distinctive environment which provides a culturally safe space, free from the stigma and trauma of historical exclusion and oppression in an imbalanced power structure.
S.H.A.P.E.’s journey from a small organization to one of international scope, mirrors the transition of its leadership. The center, which originally had a staff of two, now supports full and part-time staff and hundreds of students and volunteers who are the key component to S.H.A.P.E.’s success. The outreach, which began locally, has now gained national and international attention. Today, the center provides many programs and activities that serve as tools to strengthen families and communities.
For its efforts in improving the quality of life for children, family, and the community, S.H.A.P.E. has received more than 500 awards including the Jefferson Award, MLK Humanitarian Award, UNCF Leadership in the Minority Community Award, Mickey Leland Humanitarian Award, Metropolitan Transit Authority of Houston Outstanding Community Service Award, the State of Texas (TCADA) Substance Abuse Prevention Award, and an award from The Ladies of Distinction.