1950s Dallas – Making a Middle Class Black Community Called Hamilton Park

The cover of the book, Hamilton Park: A Planned Black Community in Dallas

In the 1960s, Hamilton Park was not the only place for middle-class Blacks to live. Wilson documents the features of these other communities, and he discusses the assets and liabilities of the Hamilton Park setting. He notes that as Hamilton Parks evolved in the 1960s the community began to make additional service demands. For instance, the community had poor bus service and residents had a long way to travel for shopping needs. To validate this contention, Wilson begins to use ethnographic accounts to support his assertions. Interviews with long-term residents pepper the balance of the book; these recollections enhance the text and are one of its principal contributions.

During the late 1950s, residents of Hamilton Park created several community organizations. One of the most prominent was the Interorganizational Council (IOC); this group reflected the dominance of the Black Church in this community setting. A secular group, the Civic League, was also established. Both of these organizations became active in the late 1950s, and they continued their community roles into the 1980s. Of particular importance in Wilson’s mind is the entrance of the IOC into the political arena. Throughout the 1960s and 1970s Hamilton Park residents forged a close alliance with the Democratic Party. The IOC distributed endorsement lists to neighborhood residents, and unabashedly supported those candidates that took Hamilton Park concerns to heart.

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