LAMAR COUNTY (CBSDFW.COM) – A push to remove a couple of historic bathroom signs that say ‘Negro’ in the small town of Paris has succeeded.
Meant to educate about a time when racism ran rampant in the town, black community leaders call the signs offensive.
And resident Brenda Cherry agrees. As a young girl growing up outside the town about an hour and a half northeast of Dallas, Cherry says she experienced segregation first hand.
“That was humiliating and I was a kid so all I knew was that it felt bad,” said Cherry.
Paris is a town still recovering from a history that included public lynchings and racial intolerance.
Cherry was stunned when she recently noticed the segregation signs by the bathrooms inside the Lamar County Courthouse.
“You saw the big word ‘Negro’ then underneath that there was some small writing about the civil rights act,” she described.
The signs were placed there 12 years ago to remind people of segregated restrooms, which no longer exist. The script is large, emblazoned in bold print onto a stark white background, spelling out ‘Negro Men’s Toilet’ and ‘Negro Women’s Toilet’. ‘Yet the copy explaining the sign’s historical significance is in very fine print.
“Why do you have new ‘Negro’ toilet signs hanging on the wall? Why? It served no purpose at all,” asked Cherry.
Many others, including local business leaders agree.
“To me it’s not history,” said Derrick X. Hughes with the Economic Development Corporation.
During its last meeting, county commissioners told opponents of the signs that the Texas Historical Commissioner wouldn’t allow them to come down.
But when CBS11 reporter JD Miles went to the courthouse Tuesday, the signs were gone. He went to the offices of county leaders for an explanation.
However, the county judge was not available nor did he respond to messages.
“It’s obvious that the commissioners court has taken the signs down and I think that’s telling about this community and the progressiveness of this community,” said Michael Paris with the Economic Development Corporation.
As for Cherry, she’s happy the signs aren’t up anymore.
“I’m glad they are moved. I think they should be thrown away.”
She now has her sights set on removing a large confederate monument honoring men described as heroes.
“They are not my heroes,” said Cherry.