Community celebrates historical marker unveiling at Harllee


More than 200 community members came together at N.W. Harllee Early Childhood Center on Sept. 17 to celebrate the unveiling of the Official Texas Historical Marker for the 10th Street Historical District formerly known as “Freedman’s Town.”

The O.W. Holmes band performs at the marker unveiling ceremony.

The 10th Street neighborhood is considered Oak Cliff’s most important African-American neighborhood, according to Preservation Dallas. The development is thought to date back to the post-Civil War era when freed slaves settled there.

“This historical marker is very significant because this community is a big part of Dallas history that has been overlooked,” said Shaun Montgomery, a community member who was among those who pushed for the historical marker. “The marker brings attention to the incredible things that have happened this area.”

N.W. Harllee Early Childhood Center’s namesake, Norman Washington Harllee, was a prominent African-American educator in Dallas and served as principal of the Dallas Colored High School from 1901–1912. Dallas ISD operated Harllee Elementary from 1928–2013 and reopened the school in 2015 as an early childhood center.

At the historical marker unveiling ceremony, families that had sent up to seven generations of students to Harllee smiled on proudly.

“Given the history of Harllee, I’m really proud of what the community has done to make this historical marker happen and to choose Harllee as its home,” Harllee Principal Onjaleke Brown said.

Trustee Lew Blackburn cuts the ribbon at N.W. Harllee Early Childhood Center.

In addition to the historical marker ceremony unveiling, the event served as an official ribbon-cutting celebration for Harllee.

“With the dedication and placement of the 10th Street Historical Marker on the grounds of N.W. Harllee Early Childhood School, it ensures that the rich history of freed slaves to its current day residents will never forget the importance of building a community of excellence and education for the 10th Street Historical district,” said Tom Hayden of Dallas ISD’s Volunteer and Partnership Services.


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