Dallas, Texas – In a historic move resonating with profound implications for social justice, the Dallas City Council voted on Wednesday to authorize the erection of a memorial at a site bearing historical significance for its role in the 139-year-old lynching of an African American man, William Allen Taylor. Archival documents indicate that this heinous act transpired on the western banks of the Trinity River, in proximity to the contemporary location of the Commerce Street Bridge, which extends from the city’s bustling downtown area.
The new monument will occupy Dallas-owned property
The council’s decision ensures that the monument will occupy city-owned property, marking a significant milestone in a community that now appears ready, both culturally and morally, to confront this grim chapter in its past and unequivocally categorize the incident as an unjustified act of murder.
Ed Gray, an advocate affiliated with the Dallas County Justice Initiative, has been a relentless force behind this endeavor, as well as other initiatives aimed at memorializing instances of lynching in Dallas.
“Dallas is a great city but it also has a history in which we have not come to terms with racism and also with lynching,” Gray said, as reported by NBC DFW.
He spoke to the Dallas City Council on Wednesday.
“We will recognize for the first time, for the first time, on the banks of the Trinity River where a man was executed, was lynched. But we do this not out of hatred. We do this not out of fear. But we do this out of love because this brings Dallas closer together,” Gray said.
Dallas City Council Member Omar Narvaez believes the decision about the monument is the right decision for the City of Dallas
In a gesture reflecting solemn respect for historical accuracy and collective memory, Dallas City Council Member Omar Narvaez, the representative for the district where the monument will be situated, lauded the initiative as a vital component of the city’s moral reckoning.
“We have to remember our history and know what happened in the past. So, when it’s done we will make sure everybody is invited to the ribbon cutting and service so we can all honor Mr. Taylor,” Narvaez said.
The physical manifestation of this commemorative endeavor is presently in the fabrication stages, spearheaded by the Montgomery Equal Justice Initiative. It will echo the design of a similar memorial plaque that was unveiled this past July at the Old Red Courthouse in Downtown Dallas. That plaque marks a disquieting event from 1910 wherein Allen Brooks was hurled from a courthouse window, prior to any formal legal conviction, and subsequently lynched by an enraged mob. The location of this grim episode is already demarcated by a monument on the city’s main thoroughfare.
Further expanding the scope of this ambitious project, Gray disclosed that an additional historical marker will be installed at Martyrs Park, located on Elm Street in Downtown Dallas. This particular marker will serve as a poignant reminder of four other individuals who met a similar fate in Dallas’ turbulent past.
An investigative article from 2018, published by the SMU Campus Daily newspaper, delves into the grim annals of Dallas County, chronicling 28 instances of lynching or extrajudicial hangings between the years 1877 and 1950. A disconcerting 19 of these victims were African Americans, highlighting the persistent racial animus that has marred the community’s history. The series of monuments and markers, therefore, serve not only as remembrances but also as moral compasses, guiding the city towards a more introspective and equitable future.