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Dallas History

A Concise History

Black Dallas Since 1842
By DONALD PAYTON |

1842
The settlement of Dallas County begins with construction of the first cabin. The families of John Beeman and Captain Mabel Gilbert arrive. Captain Gilbert brings a Negro named Smith.
1853
In Dallas County’s first legal execution, a slave named Jane Elkins is hanged for murdering a white man named Wisdom. who had raped her in his home in Farmers Branch.
1859
There are 1.080 slaves in Dallas County.
1860
A fire. Warned on a slave conspiracy, destroys most of the downtown business district. Three Negroes are hanged on the banks of the Trinity near the site of the present Triple Underpass.
1861
Dallas County voles 741 to 237 in favor of secession and contributes to the Confederacy $5,000 dollars in gold from the county treasury.
Junt 8: War is declared.
1864
With the war going badly, long wagon trains laden with cotton begin rolling from Louisiana to the presumed safety of Dallas. Local women, their families in rags, steal a bale of cotton, divide it on the spot, and carry off their portions to weave homespun garments.
1865
The war ends. Negroes in large numbers are attracted to Dallas by the com-paralive prosperity of the community. Freedman’s towns spring up. Some majority whites fear disenfranchisement if the county becomes “Africanized.” Police patrols are organized to ensure order in the Negro population.
1866
Mount Pisgah Baptist Church is founded in Upper While Rock.
1867
By military order, all Democrats in Texas, including the governor, are removed from office as impediments to Reconstruction,
1868
Dallas County holds its first election under Reconstruction. Whites who do not support Negro suffrage are barred from voting.
April 11 : The Ku Klux Klan first appears.
1869
Anthony Banning Norton, publisher of The Union Intelligencer, opens a school for [he Negro children of Dallas with his wife. Maria. Local whites disparage the Nortons as “blue-bellied Yankees.”
1870
The Negro population of Dallas County climbs to 2,109.
1876
A Negro rapist is hanged from the Texas and Pacific Railroad Bridge over the Trinity River bottoms.
1878
Union Bethel School opens for blacks.
1880
Negro population is 4,947. Term “colored” comes into use.
1883
Several public schools are opened for Negro children.
1884
The public school system of Dallas is organized. Sixteen while and six colored teachers conduct classes in six frame school buildings located around Dallas-four for whites and two for colored children.
1886
Dr. George F. Smith becomes (he city’s first colored physician, with offices at 644 1/2: Main St., and Dallas gets its first colored attorney. Joseph E. Wiley.
1889
Physician and surgeon John W. Anderson arrives in Dallas and opens his office al 816 Main St. He will become perhaps the most prominent Negro in Dallas, owning vast amounts of downtown property, as well as extensive Dallas County real estate.
1890
Negro population is 11,177. Dr. Benjamin R. Bluitt arrives in Dallas and .soon after builds the city’s first Negro-owned and -operated sanitarium. William M. Sanford and Sandy Jones open the Black Elephant Varieties Theater at 76 Commerce St., generally called the “devil’s rest spot on earth.”
1891
The Southwestern Baptist newspaper is published by Reverend E.W.D. Isaac, who is also the pastor of New Hope Baptist Church.
1893
June 20: Three thousand colored people celebrate their Emancipation Day at the State Fair grounds.
1896
Dock Rowen becomes Dallas’ first Negro money lender. Rowen also operates a successful insurance company, grocery, and meat market. Dr. M.C. Cooper is Dallas’ first colored dentist.
1900
Negro population is 13.646,
June 29: The Colored State Teachers Association holds ils 16th annual session in Sherman. A resolution condemning ’”Rag Time” music in public schools is adopted by the teachers.
Dec. 28: While and colored female county jail prisoners are put in separate cells after the white women submit lengthy petitions protesting jail integration.
1901
Jan. 4: A grand hall is given by the Ku Klux Klan at Turners Hall.
Oct. 7: Featured guest ai the Slate Fair’s Colored Peoples Day is William H. Council. president of Alabama Colored Agricultural and Mechanical College and Normal Institute.
July 4: Joseph E. Wiley, a Negro lawyer and Realtor, organizes and promotes a Colored Fair and Tri-Centennal Exposition. It runs through August.
1902
June 19: The Emancipation Day parade includes mounted police, a drum corps culled The Dallas Express Zouaves, a Fori Worth band, and The Happy Town Girls Minstrels.
Oct. 8: Reverend Dr. A.R. Griggs gives the annual address a! Colored Peoples Day at me State Fair. Griggs tells colored people to “be something, do something, gel something, give something, keep something, and the world will respect you and God will save you.”
1903
Dec. 19: A party of Colored Baptist Missionaries from Cape Town Colony. South Africa, conducts a religious mass meeting ut Hew Hope Baptist Church.
1904
June 20: Sevenl thousand people celebrate Emancipation Day in Fort Worth, arriving by train from as far away 88 Louisiana.
1905
Dr. Ollie Bryan, the first Negro woman to practice dentistry in Dallas, opens her office ai 115 Boll Si.
1906
Railroad owner ant! stale Republican party leader Cot. E.H.R. Green meets in Dallas with William (Goose Neck Bill) McDonald, a Negro leader, and others to form the Reorganized Republican Party of Texas.
Sept. 25: Cole and Johnson present “The Shoo Fly Regiment” a! the Dallas Opera House. Il is billed as the first real American Negro play.
Oct. 29: The Reorganized Republicans hold a rally ai the comer of Boll and Flora streets to appeal to the Negro voters.
1907
Jan. 2: Two Negro boys, each about 18 years of age. are fined $ I00 for disturbing the peace, after the two allegedly refused to move from a narrow sidewalk. forcing a while woman to step off into the mud.
1909
Oct. 22: Soldiers arc dispatched from Dallas to guard the peace in Greenville, where a while mob has attacked the Hum County jail in an attempt In lynch four Negro inmates.
1910
Negro population is 20,828.
March 4: Allen Brooks, a Negro charged with criminal assault upon a white child, is lynched in the midst of his trial. The mob fights its way into the courtroom and takes Brooks from his armed guards, dragging him down Main Street, where he is hanged from a pole. Dallas whites celebrate the incident. Commemorative postcards are issued.
1911
June: J.A. Gilmore refuses to give up Ms seal in the whiles-only compart-ment of a streetcar owned by the Dallas Consolidated Street Railway Company. He is assaulted by the conductor and an assistant, who throw Gilmore from the train. At trial, the court of civil appeals rules the railway lawfully enforced the Jim Crow law but applied too much force in the process. Gilmore is awarded $100.
1912
Jan. 4: Outbreak of spinal meningitis afflicts Dallas. All public schools are closed. Large numbers of Negroes wear asafeti-da (a relative of the carrot) about their necks, believing the plant’s odor will frighten away the meningitis germs. City merchants are advised by Mayor Holland to sweep in the evenings, instead of mornings, to keep down the dust.
Oct. 3:Negro stale Democrats meet in Dallas to endorse Woodrow Wilson for president and Thomas R. Marshall as vice president.
1913
Feb. 26: Fines of $50 are imposed on a while woman and her son and daughter by Judge Charles O’Donnell. All three are members of a theatrical troupe discovered by the police performing al a Negro theater in East Dallas.
1915
May 4: Judge W.L. Crawford fines Cuney Warren, a Negro. S5 for grinning in court.
1916
April 28: Grand Prairie homeowners and nearby residents
issue written protest against establishment of a Negro school. “Firs!, because the proposed location is a strictly white community where Negroes have not been allowed to live [in] for the past 30 years. The lands are all owned by whites, and they feel that if a Negro school is located there and a Negro colony established that their real estate will be immediately depreciated by at feast 50 percent….”
1919
Mayor Lawther establishes a Negro welfare board. Negroes ask for a tubercular hospital, street improvements, and sewer connections.
Dec. 9: The Texas Colored Baseball Association is organized with teams in Beaumont, Dallas. Fort Worth, Houston, San Antonio, and Wichita Falls. Teams are later added in Shreveport. Galveston, and Mineral Wells.
1920
Negro population is 24,355. While members of the South Dallas improvement League propose ii “color line” for the division of Negro and white residents of South Dallas.
1921
Jan. 9: Saint James A.M.E, Temple opens a new $50,000 church designed and built by William Sidney Pittman, America’s foremost Negro architect Thad Else opens the first local hotel in Freedman’s Town al 2II5 Routh St. to be designed and built for Negroes by Negroes.
1923
February: The Enfants Welfare and Milk Association establishes the first clinic especially for CO oral babies and their mothers, at well as expectant mothers. The clinic is headed by colored nurses and doctors.
1925
May: An interracial committee survey finds housing conditions for Negroes in Dallas “shocking.”
May 21: A mob of 5,000 attacks the Dates County jail in an attempt to lynch Lorenzo and Frank Noel, two Negroes indicted for murder and assault. Three men are shot and wounded by Dallas County officers in the course of dispersing the mob.
1926
July: A Dallas segregation ordinance is upheld by the Fifth District Conn.
1927
August: The Delamaca Broom and Mop Factory, owned and operated by two blind Negroes. opens tor business.
1928
February: Some white leaders oppose bond election because it includes money lor Negro library. More than 10.000 Negro citizens pay poll tax.
March-April: Plans are announced for a $175,000 Negro YMCA. Dallas Negroes raise $50,000, breaking a national YMCA fund-raising record.
May: First two Negro Boy Scout troops arc organized at El Bethel Baptist Church in Oak Cliff and St. Paul M.E. Church in North Dallas.
1929
June 2: Scores of religions and civic lenders express indignation al Mayor J. Waddy Tale’s refusal to welcome 4,000 Negro Knights of Pythias to Fair Park Auditorium.
1930
Negro population is 47,879.
1934
Oct. 10: Father Max Murphy, a graduate of St. Peter’s School, becomes the first Negro priest to perform mass in the Dallas Diocese. Cab Calloway and his New Cotton Club show appear at the Majestic Theatre, with midnight shows for white persons only.
Oct. 15: Negro Day at the Stale Fair draws 53,380.
1936
A. Maceo Smith, Secretary of the Progressive Citizens League, urges Negroes to pay poll tax and push for a new high school and Negro policemen.
1937
September: Al the urging of the Interdenominational Ministerial Alliance, City Council agrees to hire Negro policemen.
1938
Segregation of white and Negro patients in the county hospital waiting rooms is announced for the first time. Benches and signs noting “Negro” and “white” are installed.
February: Progressive Voters League and Negro Chamber of Commerce ask city for $1 million for low-income housing project for Negroes.
March: PVL questions School Board about raising Negro teachers’ .salaries. Black high school teachers receive $93 a month: white teachers receive $ 160 a month.
Sept. 28: George F. Porter, a Negro, is thrown down the steps of the Dallas County Courthouse for attempting to serve on a grand jury.
1939
PVL petitions City Council to hire Negro policemen.
September: Doris Miller enlists in the Navy as a mess attendant. third class. Two years later, on Dec. 7, 1941. Miller will become one of the first heroes of World War II at Pearl Harbor when he comes out of the USS Arizona’s mess hall, mans a machine gun, and shoots down five attacking Japanese aircraft. He is later awarded the Purple Heart and the Navy Cross for bravery.
1940
Negro population is 61.605.
1941
March: Captain Harold Myers, flight surgeon of the Flying Cadet Examining Board, announces that Negro pilot applications will be accepted as we!l as whites.
May: Bombs destroy apartments after blacks move in. Mayor Woodall Rogers promises action.
May 15: Bomb throwers strike again with an improvised explosive, believed to be made of dynamite, which destroys Mary Louise Wilson’s apartment at 3401 San Jacinto St. Crowds gather at 238 Hatcher St in South Dallas after a group of whites warn Milton Chatman, a Negro, not to move into the residence. Chatman departs with his household goods.
May 16: U.S. Army recruiting center in Dallas inducts 200 Negro draftees.
July 12: The white Civic League threatens to resume bombing homes bought by Negroes in all-white South Dallas. The League warns Negroes are to stay in West Dallas.
November: A black-owned flower shop in South Dallas is destroyed by a bomb.
1942
January: Training begins for several hundred Negro air raid wardens.
June 3: The Dallas Morning News editorial supports placemen! of Negroes on grand juries.
Sept. 19: John King becomes first Negro sealed on a Dallas grand jury.
1943
November: Nardis Sports Wear Inc. hires Negro women factory workers at same pay rate as whites.
Nov. 24: Doris Miller is killed aboard the aircraft carrier Liscomb Bay when it is sunk by enemy action in the South Pacific.
1944
May: The News is asked by Fair Employment Commission to end industry practice of priming white- or Negro-only help-wanted ads.
June: U.S. Supreme Court bars whites-only primaries.
1946
Negro Achievement Day al State Fair draws 104.000.
1947
March 25: Two Negro policemen. Lee G. Brotherton and Benjamin J. Thomas. begin patrolling in State Thomas area.
October: Negroes are allowed two days at the State Fair instead of one. Black attendance is 167,000.
1948
Jan. 3: Perm Stale University. with black stars Wallace Triplett and Dennie Hoggard. plays in first integrated Cotton Bowl game against SMU. The game ends in a 13-13 tie.
December: Police Chief Carl Hansson says limited use of Negro policemen has been successful. Hansson issues open invitation to blacks to join the police force.
1949
April: The Brooklyn Dodgers with Jackie Robinson play the Dallas fugles ai Bumett Stadium in Oak Cliff.
1950
City Council, led by Roland Pells, proposes to solve the “Negro housing problem” by housing 40,000 blacks in projects in the Trinity River Bottoms. Black leaders reject the idea. Dallas Negro Golf Association dedicates nation’s first Negro Golf Course at Elm Thicket, located at the present site of Love Field.
Feb. 5: Home of Horace Boener is bombed when he moves into a white South Dallas neighborhood.
June 10: NAACP submits petition to mayor and City Council demanding a stop to the bombing of Negro homes and businesses in South Dallas. Whites respond with more bombings.
Sept. 30: Herman Marion Sweat! enters UT Law School, ending official segregation.
1951
Aug. 25: Special grand jury indicts three while men-Claude Thomas Wright. Arthur Eugene Young, and Richard Russell Reader-fora lune series of bombings of black homes and stores.
1953
Oct. 10: Dedication ceremonies are held for the new Negro middle class subdivision of Hamilton Park.
1954
July 10: Seventy-five hundred people attend the national NAACP convention in Dallas. Nobel laureate Dr. Ralph Bunche gives closing address, staling. “Negroes will never accept anything less than their full rights.”
1956
Jan. 10: Segregation on buses and other Interstate public travel facilities declared unconstitutional.
October: District Judge Dallas Blankenship dismisses suit seeking to force the Dallas Transit Company to remove its segregated seating signs in buses.
1957
July 27: U.S. Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals orders immediate integration of Dallas public schools.
Aug. 3: DISD asks Court of Appeals for a new hearing, claiming it will lose accreditation and State Education Foundation funding if it integrates.
1959
April 11: Attorney C.B. Bunkley, first Negro candidate for City Council, defeated by Nevelle E. McKinney. 34,360 to 13.411.
Oct. 17: Dallas Negro Chamber of Commerce declares it will not participate in Stale Fair activities as long ;is segregated days are maintained.
1960
May: Negroes stage sit-in at Sangers Tea Room lunch counter.
August: Christian Defense and Benevolent Council raises $100,000 for attorney C.B. Bunkley to represent blacks involved in sit-ins.
Sept. 17: Superintendent W.T. White says he expects some form of schools integration in 1961. White announces he’ll unveil a “stair step” or “salt and pepper”’ plan.
Oct 1: Dallas attorneys W.J. Durham and C.B. Bunkley, together with Thurgood Marshall, rile a court challenge to White’s “salt and pepper” plan, claiming it is unfair to Negro children.
1961
Jan. 7: Mixed group of SMU students demonstrate against .in off-campus drug store for refusing 10 serve two Mack students.
April 6: Federal court orders DISD to desegregate with f;ill term.
June 3: Mrs. Earldean Simmons Robbins is first Negro woman to graduée from SMU School of Law.
July: While group buys controlling interest in the previously black-owned Dallas Star Post newspaper, calling it the first integrated newspaper in the South.
Aug. 2: Forty Dallas husinesses peacefully remove all discriminatory signs, symbols, and practices, and extend food service to all customers. regardless of race.
Sept. 6: Eight public schools peacefully integrate. Eighteen Negro children enroll in previously all-while schools
1962
September: Paula Elaine Jones, 17. becomes the first Negro freshman ai SMU.
1963
Jan. 4: Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. speaks at a Pol! Tax Rally attended by 4.000 at Fair Park Music Hall.
May: Dallas Transit Company hires first two Negro drivers. William Sample and Charles Edward Wright.
1964
May 28: Rev. Zan Wesley Holmes, pastor of Hamilton Park United Methodist Church, is elected president of the Dallas Pastors Association. He is first black president of the group.
June 3: Judge Blankenship orders civil rights demonstrators to slay out of the Picadilly Cafeteria in downtown Dallas.
June 12: Blankenship reversed. Blacks win right to picket Picadilly Cafeteria. June 28: Picadilly announce it will serve Negroes when Civil Rights Bill passes Congress.
July 10-14: Black and white civil rights demonstrators picket DISD administration building.
July 18: City Transportation Company says it will drop racial restrictions from its, taxis.
1965
June: Three blacks appointed to city boards: Dr. William Flowers to Advisory Public Health Board: John H. Glenn and Rev. Caesar Clark to Cil> Plan Commission.
1966
Sept. 7: Twenty thousand delegates to the black National Baptist Convention in Dallas are greeted by Gov. John Connally and Dallas Mayor Erik Jonsson.
1967
Jan, 7: Juanita Kraft is selected one of Dallas” !0 Most Outstanding Women by the Dallas County YWCA.
Feb. 20: C.A. Galloway becomes first Negro to join Dallas City Council. He was appointed to fill the unexpired term of Councilman Joe Moody.
Apr. 1: World Heavyweight boxing champion Cassius Clay speaks at Bishop College.
1968
January: Linzy Cole, from James Madison High School, becomes I he first black to play football ;i! Texas Christian University in Fori Worth.
Feb. 5: Former City Councilman C.A. Galloway tiles lor courtly commissioner.
Feb. 15: SMU students picket a washeteria al 5640 E. Mockingbird Ln. because of ils “white only” sign. Owner Roy Hanson punches student leader Pat Cronan in the nose and sprays the picketers with cold water.
April 4: Martin Luther King Jr. is assassinated in Memphis. Riots break out in 168 cities.
May 3: State Rep. Joseph Lockridge. the first African-American to represent Dallas County in the slate legislature, is among 83 persons killed in a Braniff Airline crash in Dawson, Texas. He was reluming to Dallas after giving a speech in Prairie View A&M College.
May 25: Dr. Paul Freeman. 33-year old black director of the San Francisco Community Music Center, is named associate conductor of the Dallas Syphony Orchestra for the 1968- ’69 season.
June 18: Rev. Zan Wesley Holmes Jr. of Dallas is elected to fill the unexpired tenu of the laie Rep. Lockridge.
1989
June 14: Black educator Irving Baker is appointed assistant to president Dr. Willis Tate at SMU. He will also serve as director of Aim-American studies. Both are firsts at SMU.
Nov. 29; Millon Washington, the first black hired by the Dallas Fire Department, begins training as an apprentice inspector.
1970
The black population of Dallas is 210,342.
Jan. 17: D.A. Stafford. 35, is named me first black captain in the Dallas Police Department.
June 6: Dr. Emerson Emory, one of three black psychiatrists in Texas, becomes the first black president of the Dallas Council of the United Service Organization, a United Fund Agency.
1971
Jan. 22: Survey finds at least 45 percent of apartment buildings in the Dallas area discriminate against minority groups in violation of the Fair Housing Act of 1968.
April 2: Joe Kirven. a black Republican appointed to the school board, says he does not favor busing to achieve social integration.
1972
Nov. 15: Southern Christian Leadership Conference officials and 100 supporters block traffic on Central Expressway and Forest Avenue to protest the shooting of seven young black men by Dallas police since Oct. 11.
Nov. 16: Six blacks arrested for marching and refusing to obey police orders to leave the roadway following a protest march from South Dallas to Kennedy Square.
1973
Sept. 2: Dallas County judge W.L. ’”Lew” Starrett releases a report that 11 percent of county employees are members of racial minorities. DISD ligures show non-whites now make up 51.7 percent of total enrollment.
1975
Dec. 1: DISD announces that black student enrollment has increased 12 percent from 57.394 in 1971 to 64.543 in 1975. Number of black teachers declined 9 percent from 2,101 to 1.908. White student population decreased by 26,063 or 30.5 percent.
1978
Feb. 21: More than 40 black Dallas school bus drivers are fired when they refuse to make their runs for the second day in a protest over pay and working conditions.
1979
Nov. 2: U.S. District Judge Robert W. Porter denies a request to prohibit the KKK from marching through downtown Dallas. Porter says that while he finds the beliefs and activities of the Klan “repugnant.” he is obligated to uphold the Klan’s constitutional right to march.
1980
Feb. 3: Political maverick Elsie Faye Heggins comes from behind to defeat Mabel White, the favorite of the business community, to win the District 6 City Council seat. The margin is 18 votes.
1983
Jan. 11: Dallas Housing Authority board of directors!, agrees to sell the Washington Place Public Housing complex to Baylor University Medical Center for $9 million over the objection of residents.
1984
November: John Wiley Price is elected to the Dallas County Commissioner’s Court from District 3.
Aug. 2: Arsonists burn down the First Pentecostal Church of God in Christ, usually referred to as “Page’s Temple.”
1986
Nov. 1: Richard S. Knight Jr., an African-American, is appointed city manager by the Dallas City Council.
1987
Sept. 8: Minister Louis Farrakhan of the Nation of Islam addresses some 2,300 at me Dallas Convention Center. Farrakhan urges blacks to build an economic and political base to support themselves.
1988
June I: Dr. Marvin Edwards. an African-American, becomes new superintendent of DISD.
1990
July 1: Members of a Dallas housing rights group take over seven government-owned homes in South Oak Cliff, charging the government and the Resolution Trust Corp. failed to make homes affordable to low- and moderate-income families.
1992
March 10: Eddie Bemice Johnson is elected to Congress. (he first African-American U.S. representative from Dallas, and the second black woman (after Barbara Jordan) elected to the House from Texas.
May 26: A memorial service is held to honor the slaves and freedmen buried in the Freedman”s Cemetery, which operated from 1861 to 1925.
November: A census study shows Dallas has the nation’s second-fastest-growing black suburban population in the 1980s, after the Riverside-San Bernardino metropolitan area in California.
1993
April 27: Former Dallas Cowboy tight end Jean S. Fugett Jr. assumes control of New York-based TLC Beatrice Internationa] Holdings Inc.-valued at $1.5 billion-after the sudden death of his half-brother, Reginald Lewis. Beatrice is the nation’s largest black-owned company.
1994
Aug. 7: The National Association of Negro Musicians Diamond Anniversary Orchestra celebrates its 75th year with a concert at the Meyerson.
1995
May 6: Ron Kirk is elected the city’s first African-American mayor. He takes office June 5.