FRINGE ELEMENT: Hiram Wesley Evans, a Dallas dentist, led the Klan here before becoming Imperial Wizard of the national organization.


When Dallas Was the Most Racist City in America

The Ku Klux Klan once ruled the city.

Earlier this year, when President Trump enacted the travel ban from predominantly Muslim countries, not long after we’d had Bill Holston, from the Human Rights Initiative, on our podcast, I got to thinking about a sorry part of Dallas’ history. In the early 1920s, one out of every three eligible men in the city belonged to the Ku Klux Klan. The Dallas chapter was the largest in the world. The State Fair of Texas had Ku Klux Klan Day. I had learned about this history, if memory serves, from Wick Allison, the founder and co-owner of D Magazine. His memory is even worse than mine, though, so I went looking for a more trustworthy account of the era. That’s when I came across a story about the KKK in Dallas written by Darwin Payne and published in 1997 by Legacies: A History Journal for Dallas and North Central Texas. Reading that story about events nearly 100 years ago, I couldn’t help but see parallels between then and now, which is why we decided to reprint Payne’s piece in the June issue of D Magazine. The story went online today.