DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – The noon hour along Dallas’ Main Street Thursday afternoon resembled the images of pedestrian hustle and bustle normally seen on the sidewalks of Manhattan or Chicago’s Michigan Avenue.
Large crowds of dog walking residents, joggers, tourists and Central Business District workers fill the walkways of Dallas’ center.
“It’s really growing,” Gerald Britt shared, as he stood at a crosswalk at Main and Akard. Britt is part of a coalition of Dallas leaders who’ve urged the Dallas City Council to mark and recognize history at the Main and Akard intersection, albeit, violent and tragic history.
“There were people here with wives, kids, and grandparents watching and approving the lynching of a Allen Brooks right here. He was not the only lynching in Dallas,” Britt said.
Allen Brooks was a 64-year-old African-American living in Dallas in 1910. He was accused of inappropriate conduct with a three year old white girl.
Before he stood trial, a group of men threw him from a second floor window of the Old Red Courthouse.
Reports from that era indicate Brooks was dragged to Dallas’ Elks Arch, which stood at Main and Akard. An estimated crowd of four thousand people gathered to watch his lynching. The act is documented in postcard photographs still held in archives with the Dallas Central Library and SMU. On one postcard, a note reads “this is a token of a great day in Dallas.”
The Dallas City Council approved a resolution to create a “proper memorial of the lynching of Allen Brooks” to officially acknowledge the public act of violence committed by Dallas residents.
“This is symbolic of countless black people who were lynched by terroristic white mobs. We have to deal with how ghastly we’ve been in the past, so we don’t return to that. And just glorifying history isn’t telling history,” Britt said.
Rick Halperin, SMU Professor for the Practice of Human Rights has used the Brooks lynching of 1910 as an academic study of Dallas history. Halperin has cited the act as an example of racial hate and intimidation perpetrated throughout North Texas in the 19th and early parts of the 20th century.
The Brooks mob lynching was a rare public act, according to Halperin, but it showed the visceral racial animus held by whites of the era. Halperin welcomed the city plan to document the Brooks lynching, and also highlight the city’s history of bigotry and bias.
“Until the city comes to grips with the fact it happened here, we can’t go forward. We can’t act like it didn’t happen, and not have kids educated saying I never heard of this,” he said.