Many in Dallas know the name George L. Allen Sr. because they have seen it on the front of the courthouse.
The George L. Allen Sr. Courts building stands tall on Commerce Street in the heart of the city. The building's size, though, is no match for the legacy Allen left behind.
Born in 1908, Allen had been fighting for what was right for most of his life. In 1938, he was the first black student to enroll in the University of Texas. When the school found out he was black, they kicked him out within 10 days of him being there.
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That would only fuel Allen’s passion to fight for equal rights for everyone. Separate but equal would never be good enough.
He is known as a trailblazer who helped through the struggle to desegregate schools in Texas.
In 1969, Allen became the first black person elected to the Dallas City Council. He would then become the first black person to serve two terms as a council member in Dallas.
As a council member, Allen proposed and helped pass an ordinance to end housing discrimination against black residents. He also passed a public accommodations ordinance to cover all areas that weren’t mentioned in the 1964 Civil Rights Act.
Allen went on to become the first black mayor pro-tem in Dallas.
He would serve three terms on the Dallas City Council before he resigned to accept a new position as a justice of the peace. Allen was elected and served three terms in Dallas County for 13 years.
In addition to fighting for rights of black people, Allen was a savvy businessman. He founded and served as the chairman of the board of the Great Liberty Life Insurance Company and then the president of his public accounting firm, George Allen and Company.
Allen served as justice of the peace until he died in 1991.