Dallas Historical Parks Project

2014 - present
Cynthia Mulcahy and lauren woods

Man with camera and streetcar passengers, The Bottom neighborhood, Dallas, Texas. Undated photo from the collection of Golden Gate Baptist Church.

Proposed text for public historical marker with images in Moore Park, a City of Dallas public green space in east Oak Cliff, Dallas, Texas.

U.S. Copyright Registered, Library of Congress, 2014.

Moore Park
Founded as Eighth Street Negro Park, 1938, in east Oak Cliif in southern Dallas

The Oak Cliff Negro Civic League had a vision when they approached the Dallas Park Board in 1934 about this beautiful woodland of rolling hills and towering pecan and oak trees. The league envisioned an expansive green space that could accommodate sizable gatherings. A ride on the Trinity Heights streetcar or traversing the Santa Fe Freight Railroad trestle by foot provided easy access for Black Dallasites to meet in what would become the largest public park designated specifically for Black residents’ use at that time.At the turn of the 20th century, Black citizens, who increasingly found their access to city parks more restricted, began to petition the City for a place where their children could safely play. Although the City never officially made racial segregation a law in public parks, conventions of dominant culture were rigid enough to enforce and privilege “White only” use of public facilities. The park board answered appeals from Black communities beginning in 1915 by establishing two parks designated for “Negro use”-- the first being Oak Cliff Negro Park (renamed Eloise Lundy Park in 1987), just north of here, closer to the river bottoms.In 1938, after several sites proposed by the park board were met with opposition from both Black and White residents for differing reasons, the board took the suggestion of the Oak Cliff Negro Civic League, and purchased twenty-five acres on this site from an early farm settlement known as Crockett Farm. Immediately, however, the board was compelled to sell three acres to a local businessman who protested a “Negro Park” existing so close to Skyline Heights--his development that was slated to be a White subdivision.At its founding, advocacy for park improvements continued from important political organizations such as the Progressive Voters League, eventually garnering the park’s most treasured amenity-- a lit baseball diamond--and soon thereafter, a modest six-hole sand green course that was a first for Black residents’ use. The early years saw Eighth Street Park teeming with ballgames that drew spectators from all over the most popular being the Dallas Negro Amateur Baseball League matches. Activities such as Sunday band concerts, the annual Negro Miss Dallas competition, moving picture shows, and citywide sports competitions between other neighborhood “Negro parks,” kept this green very active well into the midcentury. The residents who traveled across the city early Saturday mornings for a game of tennis doubles as well as the youth who took home both glory and ribbons from track and field meets, remember Eighth Street Park fondly for what it was envisioned to be--a vibrant place of refuge.At the request of the Dallas Negro Chamber of Commerce in 1940, the park was renamed to honor Will Moore, a prominent Oak Cliff citizen and community leader who was actively involved in early Dallas political organizations such as the Colored Citizens Association and the NAACP’s local branch. Among other accomplishments, Mr. Moore was an early leader in campaigns to eliminate local poll taxes, a struggle that spanned decades. The festive rededication ceremony was held on Juneteenth in honor of still-living formerly enslaved community elders in attendance.