Tracking the Affluent Blacks in Park Cities – Highland Park, Dallas

Somewhere tucked away in the heart of Dallas aka Big D is an oasis of million dollar homes of some of the wealthiest people in America. The estates in this cozy, upscale village can be quite breathtaking, especially if you take an early Saturday afternoon drive within about a 2-mile radius of Preston and Mockingbird. And at sunset, it can look like a Norman Rockwell Saturday Evening Post painting. So what would ever be missing from such an idyllic, charming enclave?

A little more diversity perhaps?

To be fair, it isn’t easy for every to just plop down $200,000 to $500,000 on a $5 million home. Census data consistently show that the Park Cities area, which consists of Highland Park and University Park, to be about 95% White, a little over one percent Black, and almost 2% Asian. If you happen to be one of the one percent African American households in Park Cities, please let us know by adding a comment below.

Here’s what Wikipedia has for Park Cities:

Park Cities is a term commonly used in reference to two communities in Dallas County, Texas – the Town of Highland Park and the City of University Park. The two municipalities, which share a border with each other, are surrounded by the city of Dallas and thus jointly comprise an enclave.

As of the 2010 census, the Park Cities had a population of 31,632.[1] [2]

The Park Cities are largely affluent and have some of the highest per capita incomes in the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex as well as the state of Texas.

In 2000 the Robb Report presented a report which stated that the Park Cities ranked No. 9 in a list of communities with the highest quality living in the USA.

Source: Park Cities Wikipedia Page

 

One affluent African American homeowner in Highland Park who has been featured in various media is mortgage businesswoman Karen Watson. Here are some snippets from a couple of sources:

Highland Park, Texas, one of the wealthiest enclaves in America, is a beautiful village, refined and leafy, filled with parks, set in the heart of Dallas. Together with its slightly less affluent sister town of University Park, home to Southern Methodist University, the two Park Cities are often referred to in Dallas as “the bubble,” as though the big city, with its real-world problems, seldom intrudes.

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Karen Watson is moving to Highland Park for the very same reasons as most of the residents. She loves her gracious 1928 Mediterranean-style home, the lushly landscaped streets and its excellent schools (earlier this month, NEWSWEEK ranked HP High as the 14th best school in the nation). But unlike most of the other new arrivals, Watson, 36 and her husband, Joshua Lazu, 38, have attracted a fair amount of attention even before their moving truck has pulled up to the house. The local newspaper, Park Cities People, features Karen Watson on the front page of its current edition.

The Watsons may well be the first African-Americans to buy and live in a home in Highland Park. Ever. It’s difficult to know with absolute certainty. The 2000 census does not break down homeownership data by race but it did record 34 blacks residing in Highland Park (or .4 percent of the total population of 8,879). Whites accounted for 97.3 percent. The paper Park Cities People consulted town historians and officials who, after searching their memories and a few documents, agreed that the Watsons are in fact the first. “[Former Dallas Cowboy star] Herschel Walker is rumored to have lived here,” Clare says, “but that’s not true. He did not own property in Highland Park, at least under his own name.”

Source: Newsweek

 

2003: Watson Has Stayed For a While

By Kara Mauerhan | Special Contributor

As a town with roots that date back to 1837, Highland Park has experienced quite a few firsts: first residential lots sold (1909), first townwide vote (1913), first black homeowner (2003) … no, that’s not a typo.

On May 29, 2003, Park Cities People featured Karen Watson and her now ex-husband, Joshua Lazu — not Joshua Watson as the article had said — for being the first African-American family to purchase and keep a home in Highland Park. The story inspired headlines in The Dallas Morning News, the Dallas Observer, and Newsweek, on account of the content, as well as the fact that the article quite boorishly began “Guess who’s coming to dinner … and staying for a while?”

But Watson said she wasn’t trying to blaze a trail when she moved from Plano to her home on Beverly Drive. She said the issue was convenience to the customer base for her successful mortgage business.

Watson said she’s used to sticking out like a sore thumb, referring to her status as a black Presbyterian Republican.

“I’ve never been a person that fits neatly into a box anyway, so that, you know, is not foreign to me, not looking outside and seeing people who look just like me, think just like me,” she said. “I’m used to being very maverick-ish.”

Read more: 2003: Watson Has Stayed For a While | Park Cities People http://www.parkcitiespeople.com/2011/07/14/2003-watson-has-stayed-for-a-while/#ixzz3B9sO1p6u

 

 Links:

Karen Watson Mortgage

 

Karen Watson is a member of Parkland Foundation’s board of directors. She is the president and owner of Karen Watson Mortgage Incorporated located in Dallas. Watson currently serves on the board of the Dallas Holocaust Museum and Center for Tolerance. She also is a Tocqueville Society Member for the United Way.

 

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