After the Civil War, many blacks, who had just became freed from slavery, left the rural and country areas of Texas, Louisiana, and Mississippi to move to the Dallas area.
Most resided in a community once known as Freedman’s Town in North Dallas. Other than Freedman’s Town, there was Deep Ellum and the Central Track, Dallas’ first and original black entertainment district, which was at its peak during the early 1900s.
Deep Ellum was known as being “legendary for its music, gambling, and street life”^ and attracted people from all walks of life, making the area one of the most important neighborhoods in Dallas history.
Throughout the years there were a number of other black neighborhoods during Dallas’ early days, like an area around what is now Spring Valley in far North Dallas, the historic 10th Street of Oak Cliff, Queen City and later the Bon Ton community in South Dallas or Frog Town of the now West End District.
The main two African-American communities only lasted until the 1940s and 1950s, when the housing project of the Roseland Homes and the freeway construction destroyed most of the two areas of Freedman’s Town and Deep Ellum.
By the 1950s and 60s, the destruction led to more blacks to live and move into South Dallas and parts of Oak Cliff. Before the 1960s, blacks were excluded from many neighborhoods in South Dallas, other than Queen City, and would even experience racial tension and violence as they were moving into these neighborhoods.
Similar to other race groups, Mexicans have been in the Dallas area since the beginning, due to the railroad system and with their native country of Mexico being nearby. Most Mexicans came to the city around the 1910s, during a time when Mexico was experiencing conflict between the government and the citizens of Mexico.
When most Mexicans arrived, they lived in a neighborhood once called Little Mexico, just north of downtown, which became a successful community until the 1980s. Today, the Mexican population makes up the majority of the Dallas communities.
The trend around the country is gentrification, with neighborhoods around Fair Park and the Cotton Bowl in South and East Dallas, West Dallas around Singleston Blvd., and few other places in the city that are slowly changing the population and demographics of Dallas’ older neighborhoods.
The streets of Dallas, was one of the first southern cities in the country to have California affiliations of the Bloods and the Crips. Neighborhoods throughout the DFW (Dallas-Ft Worth) became infamous in the state of Texas:
Sections of South Dallas like Park Row and 44 Oakland around Malcolm X or the Dixon Circle. The Bon Ton area off of Bexar Street, which was home to the old Turner Courts and Rhoads Terrace projects that were built in the early 1950s and was demolished during the 2000s.
In East Dallas, the community has areas like the old Frazier Courts (415 EDP – East Dallas Projects) to 64 Ferguson and John West Road area.
The city’s North Side was home one of Dallas’ first housing project, Cedar Springs on Maple Street and one of the city’s oldest black communities since the 1960s, Hamilton Park. North Dallas is mostly known for apartment complexes like Webb Chappel or the Skillman and Audelia area in the Lake Highlands community, along with neighborhoods like Love Field or Arlington Heights.
West Dallas is a mixed community with blacks and Mexicans that was once home to the old Fishtrap Projects and Rupert Circle.
At one time West Dallas was one of the roughest areas in Dallas, with the majority of the city’s projects being in the area, like George Loving Place, Edgar Ward Place, and Elmer Scott Place, three projects that were originally for white, black, and Mexican families.
Oak Cliff, maybe Dallas’ most known community, is more of a side of town with different sections. Oak Cliff is a large section of Dallas that has both Mexican and black neighborhoods. The Mexican population lives mostly in the western part of Oak Cliff and the black community resides in East Oak Cliff and South Oak Cliff (SOC).
People moved into Oak Cliff, starting from the 1940s and 1960s, before there was a small black community around the 10th street historic district.
As stated above, the national trend around the country is gentrification, which is having many families to slowly move outside of Dallas in places like DeSoto, Lancaster, or even Tarrant County.
*Note: All information is provided through people of the community, outside sources, and research. Some information might not be current and/or 100% accurate.
Dallas History Sources:
Govenar, Alan B., and Jay F. Brakefield. Deep Ellum and Central Track: Where the Black and White Worlds of Dallas Converged. Denton, TX: U of North Texas, 1998. Print.
Hazel, Michael V. Dallas: A History of “Big D” Austin: Texas State Historical Association, 1997. Print.
Pask, Kevin. “Deep Ellum Blues.” Southern Spaces. Southern Spaces, 30 Oct. 2007. Web. 22 Oct. 2016. <http://www.southernspaces.org/2007/deep-ellum-blues>