The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

Instagram

Lecture explores civil rights era in Dallas

The Program Council Black Awareness Committee sponsored a lecture by W. Marvin Dulaney Thursday afternoon titled “Growing up black in the white city.” Dulaney spoke about the history of civil rights in Dallas and how it is still necessary to celebrate Black History Month

“even though it’s the shortest month of the year,” said Dulaney. February was established as Black History Month in 1976.

Dulaney spoke about the issue of “whiteness” and how not enough attention has been paid to the history of blacks in Dallas. He said this is partly due to the fact that there is “so little documentation to tell their story.”

Recently, newspapers including The Dallas Morning News updated their indexes on the Web, which has allowed Dulaney to research stories, many of which were about people who served as slaves, about African-Americans in Dallas’ history.

“Memories of these slaves in Dallas tell us a lot about the history in this town,” said Dulaney.

He discussed a few of the stories he found significant, including Julia Scott Reed’s story. Reed was the first African-American columnist at The Dallas Morning News in the 1960s.

In 1967 Reed wrote about the first year that the Texas State Fair was open to all, regardless of race. Before 1967, the fair dedicated only one day of month-long fair to blacks.

“Whiteness did not stop African-Americans from living full lives in Dallas,” said Dulaney. “They challenged whiteness in a real way.”

Dulaney spoke about how SMU fit into the scheme of the civil rights era. He said during the 1960s, SMU theology students staged a sit-in at a restaurant on Hillcrest.

Dulaney talked about how the Dallas public schools in the 1960s decided it was not necessary to teach African-American history in classes because it raised consciousness of the situation.

Dulaney spoke about citizenship classes and said that in those classes, they tell students that everyone is equal and has equal rights.

“But then students would get out in the real world and it wasn’t that way,” said Dulaney. “I teach the real-world citizenship.”

Dulaney said he teaches students how important it is to vote and make the changes that are necessary.

Dulaney also acknowledged Jerry LeVias as an SMU pioneer in the civil rights movement. LeVias, who became a Mustang in 1965, was the first black football player to receive an athletic scholarship in the Southwest Conference.

When Dulaney was asked why Dallas seemed to have an easier time, violence-wise, desegregating than other Deep South cities, he said it was because Dallas “planned it.”

A 14-person committee was formed consisting of seven blacks and seven whites. Its purpose was to work together on a plan to desegregate the city, including schools.

The committee brought in Walter Cronkite to help publicize its efforts.

Cronkite emphasized how important it was to desegregate in an orderly fashion without the violence was occurring in other southern cities. Dulaney said there was still violence in the streets, but it never reached the same level as other southern states.

When questioned about his thoughts on removing of the Confederate Flag from the South Carolina State House in Columbia to the Confederate Soldier Memorial, Dulaney said he thought it was an appropriate move.

“The flag is a symbol of many things to many people, and to me it’s not offensive at all,” said Dulaney.

Nearly 30 students and faculty attended the lecture.

Robin Ogbonna, an SMU junior, said he attended because he thought it would be an interesting topic that is not really taught.

Senior Amen Amachigh agreed with Ogbonna. “The lecture could have been longer,” he said.

“You could teach a whole class on this topic,” said Amachigh.

Dulaney is currently a professor of U.S. History, 20th-Century and African-American studies at the College of Charleston.

He received his Ph.D. from Ohio State University in 1984 and is the director of the College of Charleston’s African-American Studies Program.

Dulaney’s works have been published in the Journal of Negro History, Civil War History, Southwestern Historical Quarterly, The Historian, Pacific Historical Review and Legacies.

More to Discover