Decades ago in Dallas, black families held picnics, played baseball and pushed their children on the swings of public parks they called their own.
The parks were a central part of the lives of schoolchildren and neighborhoods. They welcomed Dallas’ black residents and offered them a place for recreation during the Jim Crow era. They hosted pool parties and civic meetings, beauty contests and Juneteenth celebrations.
But as much as these places brought people together, they kept them apart. Dallas was a segregated city, and so were its parks.
Now, a history project meant to honor seven of Dallas’ historically black parks has sparked a dispute about how the city should remember an ugly part of its past. Lauren Woods and Cynthia Mulcahy, two conceptual artists hired for the project, say they’re at odds with two local foundations that gave a grant for historical markers.
Woods and Mulcahy say the Dallas-based Boone Family Foundation and the Fort Worth-based Rainwater Charitable Foundation are pushing ahead with a sanitized history of the segregated parks.
“Dallas has a culture of courtesy,” Woods said. “No one wants to make anyone uncomfortable.” But, she said, “a lot of people are ready for a more honest conversation.”
That includes references to bombings, white flight and segregation of neighborhoods.
Woods said the markers come down to an important question: Who gets to write Dallas’ history?
Woods and Mulcahy plan to speak Thursday at the city’s Park and Recreation Board meeting. The artists say the city shouldn’t accept the markers if they don’t give a full account of history.
(Continued at http://interactives.dallasnews.com/2016/segregated-parks/)