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#TheRootTrip: The Green Acres Motel Was the Place to Be

Lawrence Ross/The Root
Lawrence Ross/The Root

As in most cities during the 1950s, white flight was in full flower in Dallas as discriminatory redlining by banks and Realtors worked to create middle-class suburbs and economically deprived inner cities. According to The City in Texas: A History, builders built more than 30,000 new homes in Dallas, but fewer than 1,000 for blacks.


In the book, A. Maceo Smith, a black racial-relations adviser to the Federal Housing Administration, said, “It is harder to find homes for Negroes in Dallas than in any city in the South.” And as South Dallas became the main focal point of the black community, whether you were rich or poor, motels soon became necessary for both short- and long-term stays. And in the Green Book, the Green Acres Motel at 1711 McCoy St. was apparently the go-to motel for black travelers ... and black celebrities.

Lawrence Ross/The Root
Lawrence Ross/The Root

The Green Acres Motel had been renamed in recent years as the Triple D, but as the Green Acres, it had a bit of a history. Legendary R&B singer Ray Charles chose Dallas in the early 1950s as a place to settle down with his pregnant girlfriend, Della Beatrice Howard, where, according to a story in Pop Matters, she lived in the Green Acres Motel.

Lawrence Ross/The Root
Lawrence Ross/The Root

And in her autobiography, Rage to Survive: The Etta James Story, Etta 
James noted that she’d stayed at the Green Acres Motel, only to awaken one morning to find that her “Caddie was gone.” It had been repossessed.

Now the Green Acres Motel is in ruins. It is soon to be demolished, to be replaced with a shiny new gentrified, multiunit project that will erase its existence and speed further into the past a fading memory of one lodging oasis during segregation.

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South Dallas has been a mess for decades. Scads of city officials have broken themselves on the rocky shoals of trying to find a way to rejuvenate the area.

It’s also a bit more complex than just white flight. Upwardly mobile African-Americans have been leaving South Dallas as well.

This article is a few years old, but it’s a good one:

Twenty years ago 44 percent of all Dallas public school kids were black, according to data from the Texas Education Agency. In 2014 it was 23.4 percent, a decline of almost half.

Black student populations have blossomed in the suburbs in that period, including the most far-flung and affluent of them. In quasi-ritzy Frisco in Collin County, for example, the black student population has increased almost five-fold in 20 years to more than one in 10 of all students now.

It doesn’t help that voters in Dallas’ municipal elections definitely have a major problem in terms of liking “their guy” in an uncritical fashion.

Dallas may not be quite as bad as Detroit, but it has it’s fair share of guys who have been around or a long time who do a great job of preaching a good message to the folks of South Dallas while not really working in a meaningful way towards change. There’s a lot of handing out turkeys at Thanksgiving, but not a lot of “maybe we should try something different to change things” going on there.

/glares pointedly at District 3