In the wake of President John F. Kennedy's assassination, Dallas earned a new moniker -- the "City of Hate." It's a damning nickname. Is it fair?
Fifty years ago, Dallas was the nation's right-wing "center for resistance," says Steven Davis, one of the co-authors of the recently released Dallas 1963. The city had a handful of radical Kennedy opponents, including congressman Bruce Alger. Alger once organized an anti-Lyndon Johnson rally that ended with the Texas senator and his wife being spat upon.
It also served as the headquarters for gubernatorial candidate and John Birch Society supporter Edwin Walker, who organized an anti-UN protest in 1963 that ended with ambassador Adlai Stevenson being hit in the head with a sign post. Ted Dealey, publisher of the Dallas Morning News, once told President Kennedy (at a White House luncheon, no less), "we need a man on horseback to lead this nation, and many people in Texas and the Southwest think that you are riding Caroline's [Kennedy's daughter] tricycle." The city did not even desegregate its schools until 1961.
After President Kennedy's assassination, Dallasites faced years of trouble while traveling around the country. They were sometimes even denied service because of their hometown.
What most non-Texans didn't realize was that the city had a more glamorous and cultured side as well. It was home to new luxury apartment towers, a Frank Lloyd Wright-designed theater and the flagship location of Nieman Marcus. The Fort Worth hotel Kennedy stayed at on his final night transformed his suite into a room filled with sculptures and paintings by Monet, Picasso, and Van Gogh.
As the decade progressed, the stars of Dallas's extremist culture faded. Alger lost reelection in 1964, Walker never held office, and Dealey passed away in 1969. As racial and political tensions brought turmoil to other cities across the country in the following years, it became clear that while Dallas certainly had an ugly side, the "City of Hate" nickname was perhaps unfair.