Dallas County will highlight symbol of segregation

'Whites Only' fountain

Credit: WFAA

A water fountain at the Dallas County Records Building that was designated for 'Whites Only' in the segregation era will get a video screen to document the civil rights movement.




Posted on September 10, 2013 at 6:12 PM

Updated Tuesday, Sep 10 at 6:12 PM

DALLAS — The sign says "For Whites Only."

But the segregation-era drinking fountain in the Dallas County Records building is for everyone.

A $45,000 project would enhance the fountain by installing a video monitor to play historic civil rights clips. An artist who proposed the project years ago has already raised $30,000 on her own.

Dallas County Commissioner John Wiley Price offered $15,000 from his district's budget to complete the project before November's 50th anniversary observance of the Kennedy assassination.

That offer met with anger at Tuesday's county commissioners meeting.

"I'd like to ask the court not to pay anything on that," said one citizen.

Three speakers — all African-Americans — spoke out strongly against using any taxpayer money for the "whites only" fountain project.

"We don't want it," said another citizen, "The black community don't want it. It's racist."

"The travesty is, we had the same sort of commentary on this issue eight years ago," Commissioner Price said. "I think it's appropriate use of funds."

Price told the audience that the video will use technology to enhance an important history lesson.

County commissioners agreed, voting unanimously to approve the funds.

Right now, people walk by the fountain without a glance, even though it's on the ground floor of the lobby next to the main entrance.

Dallas County Commissioners hope that adding video will prompt people of all colors to stop and learn from a time when the simple act of drinking was also about a thirst for equality.

E-mail jstjames@wfaa.com