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Local author speaks in honor of Black History Month

Paul Dysart of Tea, South Dakota held a book signing and presentation at Touchmark in Sioux Falls last week. The event was in honor of Black History Month observed in February.

Black History Month was officially designated in 1976 by U.S. President Gerald R. Ford. Dysart said at the event that South Dakota began observing Black History Month in 1990. Dysart acknowledged that Sioux Falls has come a long way in becoming more diverse.

The captive audience at Touchmark heard about Dysart’s life experiences as he grew up in the Sioux Falls community. He and his family moved from an all- Black neighborhood in Kansas to the predominately white community of Sioux Falls in the late 1940s. Dysart was only four years old at the time. That is where Dysart’s book, “Why Can’t We All Just Get Along: The Paul Dysart Story” begins.

Dysart released his book in November 2020. The book outlines his experiences and highlights his life’s accomplishments, which include many “firsts”.

The Dysart family was the first Black family to attend as parishioners at Saint Joseph’s Cathedral and as students at St. Joseph Cathedral School (1946). Dysart himself was the first Black man to work at John Morrell’s in 1964, and the first Black Realtor in South Dakota (1978). In his book, Dysart also touches on his experiences in the U.S. Army and U.S. Navy Seabees. Dysart shares life lessons that he has uncovered through his many experiences. As his book reads, “An important life lesson: When the cards aren’t there play your own game.”

Dysart re-lived some of the stories of his youth with the attendees during his hour-long presentation. After which, Dysart took some time for questions and answers followed by Hors d’oeuvres. The ribs served were extra special as they featured Dysart’s homemade Just Right BBQ Sauce. This special sauce recipe is a family secret that has been passed down in the Dysart family originating in the early 1700s. Dysart himself has been making and mixing it for over 50 years. Another interesting story featured in his book.

Dysart’s animated delivery of his memories provided for an entertaining event. The stories came alive as he told the group what it was like growing up Black in Sioux Falls — getting turned away for work, housing, and overcoming those obstacles to become a self-made businessman later in his life. Those in the area may know Dysart from his years of driving bus for the Tea Area School District.

Now retired from the School District, Dysart still drives a shuttle for the Grand Stay Hotel in Tea. He also spends time promoting his book.

The book, “Can’t We All Just Get Along? The Paul Dysart Story” By Paul E. Dysart is available for order on for $14.99 or locally from the author by calling 605-940- 0753 or email


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