Home » Texas » Highland Park

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

Sundown Town in the Past?
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 practice.

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.