A more improbable publishing history for a book is difficult to imagine. The Accommodation, by Jim Schutze, came out in 1986 and was a resounding failure. Seems no one was much interested in reading about the racial history of Dallas and how Black homes were bombed in 1950 in mostly White South Dallas as the city lowered its head and, for the most part, invited the civil rights movement to pass it by.
Then, about 30 years later, the out-of-print book became a local underground hit, with used copies being offered online for upward of $1,000 and people emailing each other a terrible, totally not legal PDF of the book. By then, John Wiley Price, a Black county commissioner who would beat corruption charges in federal court, owned the copyright. And he was open to a radical idea.
This month, 30,000 paperback copies of The Accommodation will be distributed across the city as Dallas joins one huge book club called Big D Reads. Throughout September, there will be talks and performances and even meals connected to the book. For a full list of activities and to find out everywhere you can get a free copy of the book, go to bigdreads.org. A shoutout to D Magazine’s partners who have made this possible: the Dallas Public Library, Deep Vellum Books, Communities Foundation of Texas, Better Block, the Dallas Foundation, and many, many more. Oh, yeah. And a little company called Amazon.
Events and Fun
Grab a Copy
Every weekday from 10 am to 4 pm, drop in to snag some free pages at Dallas CASA, 2757 Swiss Ave., or at D Magazine, 750 N. St. Paul St., 21st Floor.
Sept. 1, 10 am
Big D Reads will officially kick off at the downtown J. Erik Jonsson Central Library. Dallas’ first-ever poet laureate, Joaquín Zihuatanejo, will read a new poem inspired by the book. The South Dallas Concert Choir will perform, and there will be remarks by author Jim Schutze and publisher Will Evans. Break Bread, Break Borders will provide refreshments.
1515 Young St.
Wednesdays at noon Throughout Sept.
Dr. Andy Stoker from the Thanks-Giving Foundation will guide a 30-minute meditation on the “Inner Work of Racial Healing” at Thanks-Giving Square.
1627 Pacific Ave.
Wednesdays at 7 pm
Dr. Stoker will lead an online conversation about the book. Be sure to get registered beforehand.
Sept. 8, 5–7 pm
Hook up with the Dallas Young Professionals at Klyde Warren Park’s Reading Room to have a drink and meet change-makers who are reading the book.
2012 Woodall Rodgers Fwy.
Sept. 10 & 30
Hop on a bus for a civil rights tour with the crew from Remembering Black Dallas. The trip will include sites connected to and stories about Dallas’ African American history. Get your tickets ahead of time.
Sept. 17, 2 pm
Soul Rep Theatre Company presents excerpts from the full production of Travisville, written by Dallas native William Jackson Harper (aka Chidi from The Good Place). The play was inspired by The Accommodation.
7310 Lake June Rd.
The experimental group Artstillery will present “In Spite of History,” an immersive storytelling experience about those who lived in Fair Park and South Dallas in the 1960s.
2922 Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd.
Author Jim Schutze will talk about how Dallas has changed since his book was published. Vocalist Albion Josiah, who has performed at the White House, will provide musical accompaniment. You’ll need a ticket to this event at the Dallas Museum of Art, in the Horchow Auditorium.
1717 N. Harwood St.