I lost a friend, the community lost a warrior

By Allen Payton, Publisher

I got the news through an email in September, that my friend and long-time community activist, Darnell Turner had died.

We had been friends for about 20 years and were both involved in the community. He served in a variety of capacities as a volunteer leader, but also as an elected member of the Los Medanos Healthcare District.

But that was after we first met and were part of something we called the Round Table, back in the early 90’s. It was made up of seven guys who wanted to make a difference in East County.

I only remember four of the members. Besides Darnell and me there was also Brett Howard, who led the effort to change the name of West Pittsburg to Bay Point, and Jim Becker, who led the non-profit Delta 2000 for a time. I went on to serve on the Antioch City Council from 1994-98.

Although a Pittsburg resident, Darnell was best known in Antioch in his capacity as President of the NAACP East County Branch and President of the Black Families Association – almost always with his sidekick, Willie Mims, with him at Antioch City Council and School Board meetings.

He would advocate and be a voice for those who were either afraid to talk or just weren’t sure who to talk to.

While we didn’t always agree on every issue, we maintained our friendship and mutual respect. Darnell was my Christian brother. I will miss him, and already do. He left this world too soon. But, he’s in a better place, now.

Those of us who he left behind must continue his work for equality for all.

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