The Dallas Arts District is filled with magnificent arts institutions, high-rise office and residential towers, parks, restaurants, hotels and more. But its history is complex.

For many centuries, this land was inhabited by numerous Native American tribes including the Hasinai, Wichita, Comanche, Cherokee, Kiowa, Tawakoni and more. The Caddo, driven here by the settlement of Louisiana, inhabited the Dallas area until being violently removed in the 1840s by American settlers and soldiers.

This neighborhood was also one of the city’s original freedmen’s towns, built by formerly enslaved Black people after their emancipation at the end of the Civil War. It became a vibrant center for Black life and culture. Some of its historic structures still stand. Booker T. Washington High School was the first Dallas high school for Black students. It is now an arts magnet school. St. Paul’s United Methodist Church was a prominent Black religious institution. And the historic Moorland YMCA also served as a center for the civil rights movement in Dallas and as a hotel where Black leaders like Thurgood Marshall and Muhammad Ali would stay because the city’s hotels were segregated. Today this structure is home to Dallas Black Dance Theatre, one of the AT&T Performing Arts Center’s five esteemed resident companies.

We recognize and honor this neighborhood’s history and the many stewards of this land over hundreds of years.

Dallas Black Dance Theatre.

Booker T Washington.