A 1970s photo shows the old recreation center and playground equipment at what is now Eloise Lundy Park. One of Dallas’ earliest parks created for black residents, it turns 100 next year.
Many of Dallas’ parks are named for black residents who made an impact on the community. Two foundations are working together to collect photographs and information about seven parks that exemplify how the city provided recreation for black residents before integration.
The Boone Family Foundation and the Rainwater Charitable Foundation are providing about $98,000 in grants for historical markers that will be installed at the seven parks by the end of summer, said Boone Foundation executive director Cynthia Yung. She said additional information about the parks’ histories will be available online by the end of the year.
“It is important to both foundations to have Dallas remember all the footprints of people that made this city great,” Yung said.
The groups will present the project to the Dallas park board April 17. The African-American Museum and Dallas Historical Society are resource sponsors.
Researchers are visiting churches and organizations to make presentations about the project. They are asking the public to search scrapbooks and archives for photographs of black family gatherings and youth activities at the parks prior to Dallas integration — particularly before 1970. Activities would include swimming, picnics, sports, craft classes, social events and reunions. Researchers will make copies and return the original photographs.
As an extra incentive, researchers are offering $100 to the person who provides the most photographs that fit the criteria, said researcher Dr. LaTrese Adkins-Weathersby.
“Our elders who remember these parks when they were segregated are our real source of documentation,” Adkins-Weathersby said.
Two of the earliest parks for black Dallas residents will reach the century mark next year. Eloise Lundy Park, originally Oak Cliff Negro Park, and Griggs Park just north of downtown Dallas, originally Hall Street Negro Park, were founded in 1915. Griggs’ renovation and marker placement are part of a separate preservation project sponsored by Uptown Dallas, a public improvement district.
But in addition to Lundy Park, the Boone-Rainwater grants will fund markers at Wheatley Park, originally South Dallas Negro Park; Juanita Craft Park (Wahoo Park); Exline Park (South Dallas Negro Park); Will Moore Park (Eighth Street Negro Park); Bill Blair Park (Rochester Park), and Mattie Nash/Myrtle Davis Park (North Hampton Park).
Conceptual artists Lauren Woods and Cynthia Mulcahy are contributing researchers. To learn more or to schedule a presentation or oral history interview, contact Adkins-Weathersby at 214-883-3308.