History of South Dallas

The History of South Dallas Timeline will guide you through South Dallas’ history, from desegregation to the establishment of Fair Park and the implications that have followed. In each event, you will find information from books, articles, and news sources along with a video or podcast diving deeper into the topic. The history below, compiled by Cristal Mendez and Shelby Peck, was intended to highlight key events in the past, but also explain how those events are still shaping the future of South Dallas.


African Americans Learn of their Freedom from Slavery

Slaves are freed after the Emancipation Proclamation during the Civil War leading to the establishment of Freedman’s Towns throughout Dallas.

Texas Legislature Mandates Segregation of the Education System

The creation of two separate education systems in Texas led churches and community members to fill the gaps.

January 30, 1886

Fair Park is First Created in Dallas 

Fair Park in Dallas was chosen as the home for the Texas State Fair over larger cities like Houston and San Antonio, creating a legacy for years to come.

City Government Changes to a Commission Government

Changes to the city government would not favor all constituents equally.


Hall of Negro Life was Funded at the Texas Centennial

The Texas Centennial Exposition was held in Fair Park in 1936 to celebrate Texas Independence.

March 9, 1936

Dallas Government Designates Areas Throughout South Dallas as “Redzones” that are Unsafe for Investments

The creation of “redzones” allowed banks to reject loan requests from areas they considered “high risk,” allowing for discrimination against low-income residents of Dallas.

Major Flood of the Trinity River

The Trinity River often flooded South Dallas, which is located on the floodplain, devastating the community and the small businesses that reside there.

April 1942

Construction of North Central Highway was Completed

North Central Expressway divided North Dallas (a previous Freedman’s Town) in two, causing migration to South Dallas.

First Racially Motivated South Dallas Bombing

Black families experienced harassment in South Dallas at a time when little housing was available for them.

February 1950
May 17, 1954

Brown v. Board Ended Segregation

Brown v. Board overrides Plessy v. Ferguson’s “separate but equal” doctrine and allows desegregation of public schools.

I-30 Opens in Dallas

I-30 divided Dallas into North and South, allowing for geographical segregation of the two communities.

April 27, 1957

Construction of Woodall Rodgers is Completed through Freedman’s Town North Dallas

Woodall Rodgers Freeway ran through Freedman’s Town (currently Uptown), cutting residents off from downtown Dallas by foot and forcing relocation.

State Fair Creates Plan to Acquire Homes for Parking Lots

The State Fair created a redevelopment program to turn surrounding low-income neighborhoods into parking lots.


Judge Taylor Creates Busing System for Desegregation

In order to address the slow desegregation, Judge Taylor passed a busing system to bus minority students into high income public schools.

Congress Passes the Community Reinvestment Act to Help Remedy Redlining

The Community Reinvestment Act tried to address the issue of redlining on a national level, but was misused so that banks could invest in low-income housing, causing a “slumlord” problem in Dallas.


Lawsuit for Single Member Voting Districts

Resident and community members wanted more representation in City Council.

10th Street is Designated as a Historical Landmark

10th Street is one of the only remaining Freedman’s Towns and represents the culture and history of the black community in Dallas.

November 13, 1993

The African American Museum Opens in Fair Park

The African American Museum resides in Fair Park and offers a collection of black art and cultural exhibits from across the country.

DART Light Rail Opens

The DART light rail system was created to allow easy transportation for those throughout Dallas, but it works to benefit the wealthy class despite their lack of use.

June 14, 1996

Restorative Farms Opens in South Dallas

Restorative Farms is a South Dallas organization that has a community garden and uses restorative justice to help maintain the garden.

U.S. House Financial Services Committee Takes Testimony on Redlining in Dallas

The U.S. House Financial Services Committee met to discuss the issue of redlining in Dallas, talking to various community members about their experiences.

July 31, 2021

Do you have any suggestions of events or sources that we missed? Please let us know by clicking on the tool icon above!