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‘111 years in the making’: Dallas advocates unveil historical marker for Allen Brooks

Allen Brooks marker pre-unveiling
Pablo Arauz Peña
/
KERA News
Dallas advocates prepare to unveil a marker on Nov. 20, 2021 for Allen Brooks, a Black man, who was lynched at the corner of Main and Akard Streets in downtown Dallas in 1910.

Dallas advocates say the marker will make sure the city remembers its troubled past.

The sound of beating dreams and applause echoed in downtown Dallas Saturday at the corner of Main and Akard Streets as advocates and civic leaders celebrated the unveiling of a memorial marker dedicated to Allen Brooks.

Brooks, a Black man, was lynched by a white mob on that very street corner on March 3, 1910 as thousands of people looked on.

Saturday’s ceremony was a moment of mourning and appreciation for Black lives lost to racist violence. Drummers and dancers from the Pan-African Connection opened the ceremony. Civic leaders including Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins and County Commissioners John Wiley Price and J.J. Koch were in attendance.

Allen Brooks marker closeup
Pablo Arauz Peña / KERA News
The marker in downtown Dallas tells the story of what happened to Allen Brooks at the intersection of where he was lynched by a white mob in 1910.

Ed Gray is president of the Dallas County Justice Initiative which organized the ceremony. He said dedicating this marker has been 111 years in the making.

“This is an effort [of] historical activism in which we need to make sure that we reach back in history so we don't repeat it,” Gray said.

Gray said it was a step towards the state recognizing the humanity of Allen Brooks, who died at 59 after being accused of a crime while awaiting trial. Gray, who is 59, said he wants Brooks to be remembered as much as he is.

“He didn't have the opportunity to do what I did, which is hold his grandchildren, be with friends,” he said. “What he did was suffer the pains of oppression. Though I'm suffering those pains right now, I dream and hope for a better tomorrow.”

Michael Phillips, a member of the Dallas County Justice Initiative, said Brooks’ story was one of several in Dallas at the height of lynchings across the South, but his case was set apart because a photo of Brooks’ lynching was turned into a postcard and distributed across the country.

“It's one of my more gripping photographs in the history of lynching… during the peak years of lynching,” Phillips said.

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