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'No longer are we denying': Dallas honors lynching victim with marker along the Trinity River

A group of people stands in front of a blue plaque commemorating William Allen Taylor with the Dallas skyline in the background
Zara Amaechi
Members of Remembering Black Dallas and the Dallas County Justice Initiative stand in front of a marker commemorating William Allen Taylor.

Nearly 140 years after he was murdered along the banks of the Trinity River in Dallas, William Allen Taylor's life has been commemorated with a new historical marker.

In 1884, Taylor, 25, was accused of assaulting a white woman in her home and later lynched by a mob seeking revenge. He was moved around North Texas under the protection of a sheriff until the group found him in Midlothian and returned him to Dallas, where they hanged him.

A Galveston Daily News article reported Allen’s last words were: “Boss, you are hanging an innocent man. I don’t know anything about it, and I won’t tell a lie by saying I do.”

The City of Dallas along with Remembering Black Dallas and the Dallas County Justice initiative held a ceremony this weekend to unveil a marker near the site of Taylor’s death.

“These markers and other markers that have been placed are just another evolution of the city in itself,” said Remembering Black Dallas president Deborah Hopes. “No longer are we denying.”

The event featured speakers who shared remarks that promoted the African American experience, history, and cultural differences in Dallas.

“Words were said earlier about how we were putting up these historical markers, not as a way to revise history, but as a way to tell history,” said Ed Gray, head of the Dallas County Justice Initiative. He said the marker isn’t “commemorating a lynching,” but rather “commemorating [Taylor’s] spirit.”

The coalition intended on placing a marker for Taylor back in September 2022, adding to the two dozen other markers already placed around Dallas, but continued to run into frustrations that delayed the process.

Now having all the support needed, they intend to work on more projects that will remind the city of Black Dallas.

“Where we go from here is to grow better together and to give the opportunities for our children to know, for the future to know, and then for us to continue to collaborate to make our city a better city,” Hopes said.

Zara was born in Croydon, England, and moved to Texas at eight years old. She grew up running track and field until her last year at the University of North Texas. She previously interned for D Magazine and has a strong passion for music history and art culture.