Fair Park Hasn't Always Been Fair to Everyone, and It's Time Dallas Finally Tells That Story

Phillip Collins, once chief curator at the African American Museum at Fair Park, earlier this month took the microphone at the Hall of State and shared the story of a Fair Park building long ago hastily erased with no good reason.But we all know the reason. We know it because Fair Park, the city's great jewel, has long been unfair, unwelcoming. Fences and concrete have long left its nearby residents — people who don't have white skin — to feel the landmark's 277 acres are off-limits, forbidden.The Hall of Negro Life, the building was called, constructed in 1936 for the Texas Centennial Exposition. The edifice represented "the first instance of the recognition of black culture at a world's fair," says the Texas State Library, from science to literature to education to music. Its exterior was modest; its interior was adorned by murals made by one of the 20th century's greatest painters. Everyone who walked through its doors received a copy of W.E.B. DuBois' pamphlet What the Negro Has Done for the United States and Texas.But as Collins reminded a panel of city officials and historians and activists, the Hall of Negro Life was razed upon the conclusion of the Centennial celebration, replaced by a whites-only swimming pool that was filled with concrete upon the end of segregation — lest black and white have to share it. The site became a parking lot, a familiar tale at Fair Park whenever the city wants to take from black and give to white.A familiar tale, but also a fading one. Which is what this meeting was about.   Continue reading...

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