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Vision for historic 10th Street neighborhood

PATRICIA COX | 8/20/2018, 8:16 p.m.
There is no question about it; demolition of structures is a displacement of history. Throughout the years, our Tenth Street ...
Patricia Cox is the president of the Tenth Street Residential Association. Tenth Street Residential Association

Tenth Street Residential Association

There is no question about it; demolition of structures is a displacement of history. Throughout the years, our Tenth Street Historic District has experienced a series of demolitions. Continuously, the need of home repair is used to justify the quick race to demolition. Demolition of historic buildings neglects the significance of our freedman’s town. The Tenth Street Residential Association does not advocate for the neglect of buildings. TRSA advocates for an appropriate allotted time to explore a building’s preservation options rather than to see it demolished.

The Tenth Street Historic District is a testament of the vision of former slaves following the Civil War. Homes were built from the ground up with sacrifice and optimism of a promising future. Our freedman’s town was an opportunity to change the course of history. The work ethic and resourcefulness of former slaves laid the foundation for generations to come.

Despite redlining, the community thrived and Tenth Street became a hub of activity. I have fond memories of a 10th Street that once had a doctor’s office, dry cleaner, grocery store, drugstore, shoe shop, barber shop, soda pop maker and a funeral home. Our freedman’s town was also home to well-known individuals such as – Rafer Johnson, an Olympic gold medalist; T-Bone Walker, a blues artist; and Cecil “Shucky Ducky” Armstrong, comedian and actor. Unfortunately, the construction of a highway in 1955 led to the demolition of homes and displacement of many neighbors.

Although another highway is not cutting through our community, demolition and lack of investment persists.

All is not lost. There is still time to preserve the Tenth Street Historic District’s vision of a preserved freedman’s town with economic opportunities. We have the potential to return as a thriving community, but we need support from the city of Dallas and others.

The Tenth Street Historic District needs equitable decisions and investment. First, the Demolition Delay Overlay for the Winnetka Heights community and other communities needs to be extended to the Tenth Street Historic District. Second, residents from the community need home improvement funds and not empty lots. Empty lots and properties that lay barren and untouched after being bought up by investors do not contribute to the Tenth Street Historic District’s vision. Third, our residents encourage economic development without displacement that would create an economically viable community and benefit the current residents of modest means.

Overall, the city of Dallas needs to implement measures, as stated above, to preserve over 150 years of history and the freedman’s town vision, one of the few in the state of Texas.

Patricia Cox is the president of the Tenth Street Residential Association.