Day 2 Fact or Fiction - Dallas DRAGONS?
Whether you are native to Dallas Oregon or new to town, you've undoubtedly heard the gossip that Dallas High School Mascot, the Dragons, is a direct result of the Ku Klux Klan Leaders known as the "Grand Dragon". Day two of Fact or Fiction in Dallas addresses this legend that seems to arise every few years. As stated in yesterday's blog post, the following information is based on personal research, interviews and various articles on the subject. Many people have referred to Dallas Oregon as a Sundown Town. A Sundown Town is described as town that is or was purposely all-white. The term is widely used in the US in areas from Ohio to Oregon and well into the South. The term came from signs that were allegedly posted stating that people of color had to leave the town by sundown. The minority people could not visit after sunset or spend the night in the town (even as a paying hotel customer). Such towns are also sometimes called “sunset towns” or “gray towns”. 1
As stated in yesterday's post, YES, there was Ku Klux Klan activity in Polk County. YES, the klan participated in community activities under the guise of increasing their fraternal organization. YES, many men from Polk County joined the klan. YES, most of them joined not knowing it was a racist organization and were embarrassed to have joined in the first place. The racism in Polk County wasn't targeted so much at African Americans as it was at Catholics and Jews. And lastly, YES, this behavior is appalling. Not to excuse this behavior, however, we must realize it is a part of our history. Be it as it may, it is a part of the history that shaped the accepting culture of Dallas Oregon today. Now, onto the Dallas Dragons. There is a common myth, yes, I said MYTH that the Dallas "Prune Pickers" were renamed the "Dragons" as a result of the KKK leaders known as the "Grand Dragons". Some even go as far to say that the colors of the High School, Orange and Black, are because Grand Dragons wore orange robes with black hoods. From our research, there is no evidence to support this. "Generally speaking, white robes tend to indicate a rank-and-file member, unless all members wear such robes. Green robes indicate state leaders (Grand Dragons) in many Klan groups...."2
Between 1917 and 1936 Dallas was known as Prune City. Families planted prune trees and they were shipped from Dallas throughout the United States and even all the way to Europe. The Dallas High School Mascot was the "Prune Pickers" through the 30's. It was later in the 30's (maybe early 40's) that the school district decided a mascot change was needed, thus the Dallas Dragons were born. Some believe that the mascot change came in the 50's, around the time that the KKK had a large conference in Dallas. Simply untrue. The mascot change came well before this time. Through research, it was found that the Dragons mascot was chosen"because of alliteration, not bigotry". 3. Think about it, the "Prune Pickers" doesn't exactly instill fear in the hearts of opposing sports teams. Wouldn't you change your mascot?
1. Gordon D. Morgan, Black Hillbillies of the Arkansas Ozarks (Fayetteville: U of AR Dept. of Sociology, 1973 typescript), 60.