By 1948 blacks, Mexican Americans, and poor whites numbered 25,000 in West Dallas. Since the city did not provide services, very few households had running water and indoor toilets. If families wanted indoor plumbing, it was their responsibility to install septic tanks which required a significant expense. Outhouses were common, and residents often drank from wells that were close to waste disposals (Phillips, 2006).
Due to the lack of proper water and sewage services, diseases were prevalent, “…West Dallas accounted for 50 percent of the city’s typhus cases, 60 percent of the tuberculosis, and 30 percent of the polio” (Phillips, 2006, p. 125). The health disparities in west Dallas are one example of how the city government favored the elite and often ignored the poor and working class.
To hear from a previous resident of West Dallas during this time, watch the following video.
It was individuals like West Dallas preacher Bill Harrod, that saw the needs of his community not being met. In the 1940s, he created a fund that would help meet the physical needs of West Dallas. Eventually, Brother Bill’s Helping Hand was registered as a non-profit, and in later year’s UT Southwestern would host its first off-campus charity clinic at this location. Today Brother Bill’s Helping Hand houses a full-service Community Health Clinic, Mental Health Clinic, grocery store, and health and wellness programs (Brother Bill’s Helping Hand, n.d.).
Phillips, M. (2006). White metropolis: Race, ethnicity, and religion in Dallas, 1841-2001. University of Texas Press. http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/southernmethodist/detail.action?docID=3443275
Jackson, E. (2021, January 24). West Dallas community history exhibit. Dallas Public Library. http://dallaslibrary2.org/blogs/bookedSolid/2021/01/west-dallas-community-history-exhibit/
Brother Bill’s Helping Hand. (n.d.). https://bbhh.org/