A Gresham coach sets out to make a difference in the apparel game

A Gresham entrepreneur has launched an e-commerce outlet that specializes in social justice and civil rights merchandise.

Property of America is part of Dexter Morrison’s long-term plan to raise money and reinvest in Black communities. His new merchandise brand is a departure from his first business venture, selling NFL and NBA-licensed switch plate covers back in 1991.

Property of America’s sporty apparel is inspired by the Black Lives Matter movement and often features Democratic politicians.

“I don’t normally get involved in politics,” said Morrison, who has spent 45 years working for the likes of Union Oil Co. and Trimet, from which he retired. He's also coached football at Centennial Middle School.

His turning point arrived in 2018.

“Everything was getting worse for the middle class,” said Morrison. After hearing Donald Trump reference the city of Baltimore as a "disgusting, rat and rodent-infested mess" in 2019, Morrison said it was clear “there was no plan” for improvements, and subsequently opened his business under the name Big D Productions.

Noticing a lack of merchandising for Democratic politicians, Morrison contacted Democratic National Convention Chairman Tom Perez, about selling merchandise for the Biden campaign. Morrison said their correspondence led him to a 2020 presidential primary rally in South Carolina, where he met and snapped selfies with Perez and President Biden.

According to Morrison, the interaction with the politicians solidified his mission to “make a difference in 2020 and beyond,” although the 2020 murder of George Floyd would alter the focus of his business interests. Rather than creating merchandise to solely support the DNC, Morrison intends to use revenue from Property of America to give back to the community.

“​​Everybody can agree that we need to start making a change for the young people in this country,” explained Morrison. “Because we’ve got kids in this country who don't know how great this is. They live in nothing but fear and violence. They don't know what we can do when we come together.”

Morrison’s ambitions for One Building Project piggyback from his experiences as a college football player in the 1970s at the University of Hawaii and Portland State University. In 2007, he organized the "Sports Tune Up" conference that featured football legend Ken Carter, aka "Coach Carter."

Morrison said he will integrate principles taught in team sports to drive his mission.

“I told people three years ago that I was coming here with my football mentality," said Morrison. "I'm in survival mode, and I've got to make this happen.

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