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James W. Loewen (1942-2021)

We mourn the loss of our friend and colleague and remain committed to the work he began.

Highland Park


Basic Information

Type of Place
Metro Area
East Texas
Politics c. 1860?
Unions, Organized Labor?

Sundown Town Status

Confirmed Sundown Town?
Was there an ordinance?
Don't Know
Don’t Know
Year of Greatest Interest
Still Sundown?
Probably Not, Although Still Very Few Black People

Census Information

The available census data from 1860 to the present
Total White Black Asian Native Hispanic Other BHshld
1940 10288 8970 1310 8
1970 10133 9979 119
2000 8842 8601 34 74 12 241 121 2

Method of Exclusion

  • Unknown

Main Ethnic Group(s)

  • Unknown

Group(s) Excluded

  • Black


Highland Park is one of Dallas’s most exclusive
suburbs. President George W. Bush lived there at
one time, and Dick Cheney still maintains a home in
Highland Park. When it was developed in 1913,
restrictive covenants applied to every home. After
Brown v. Board of Education in 1954, Highland Park
sent its few black students to school in Dallas
rather than allow them to attend Highland Park
schools. Eventually this was overturned on the basis
of Texas’s desegregation laws, to which an
alderman suggested that the city ask homeowners
to fire their live-in servants (the parents of those
black schoolchildren). In 1961, the city of Dallas
stopped accepting children from the suburbs, and
at least one white employer paid rent for a Dallas
address for her black servant’s children.

In 1981, 104 people filed a class-action lawsuit
against the town, alledging discrimination and
racial profiling by police against African Americans
and Hispanics. The police often charged people of
color with being “drunk in car”, a crime which the
plaintiff’s lawyers pointed out was not actually on
the books. Although the police denied the
allegations, the Justic Department became involved,
and reached an agreement with the town to halt the

A black couple who purchased a house in
Highland Park in 2003 are believed to be the first
black homeowners in the city. According to a June
2003 Newsweek web article, the local paper ran a
story about the couple on the front page, with the
lead “Guess who’s coming to dinner? and staying
for a while?” The article also referred to the female
of the couple as “girl”. The woman, Karen Watson,
told Newsweek she was “disappointed” with the
lead but happy that race and racial discrimination in
housing were being discussed. Watson is a
mortgage officer and reported that she had seen
racial discrimination in her work.

The city has a reputation for exclusivity applied
any outsiders, not just people of color. Eating lunch
and picnicing is forbidden the local parks. The city
also required fishing permits to fish in any waters
within Highland Park, which violates Texas law as a
state fishing permit is good for all public waters in
Texas and all of the waters within Highland Park are
public. Usage of tennis courts in the public parks is
forbidden to Dallas residents. Two white graduate
students were arrested for violating this ordinance
and offered the choice of a $5 fine or a night in jail.
The students chose jail.