Drinking From the Fountain of Knowledge


fountainThere’s a water fountain inside the Dallas County Records Building that anyone is free to use.  That’s not a very startling mouthful to swallow unless you know what used to hang on the wall above the fountain.

An article on WBAP 24/7 News highlights an 8 year project by Dallas teacher Lauren Woods.  Woods effort before the Dallas County Commissioners Court succeeded in saving the fountain in order to retain an historic piece of Dallas history by uncovering what was hidden from sight but never out of mind to those who knew the words once suspended above the fountain.

The story behind the sign is an uncomfortable slug of history that today is more important than the sign itself.  The sign above that water fountain once read “Whites Only” and was long ago covered up.  Those two words were a powerfully negative representation of the civil rights era and eventually, even the fountain was removed.

I remember being downtown in 90’s at the records building once and seeing the fountain.  Ignorant of the sign that used to hang there, I almost took a drink when someone pointed out the (at the time) covered sign & explained what it used to say.  I couldn’t bring myself to drink from the fountain.  It suddenly seemed like even a sip of that water would turn me into a racist, a drinker of hatred, a bigot.  I stood there not daring to quench my thirst as I drank in the knowledge of the power of those two words.

Thanks Mrs. Woods, today when you enter the east entrance of the Dallas County Records building (off Elm and Houston) in downtown Dallas, the fountain has returned along with a brief video that unveils history one sip at a time.




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