Doesn’t look like much, but the fieldhouse was part of a state-of-the-art facility on Forest Lane at Abrams. Photo provided by Dan Hamilton.

“The Dallas Cowboys practice facility on Forest Lane is special. Their clubhouse, modeled after the one at Yankees Stadium, exudes class.” So reads a Dec. 1967 Life magazine story about quarterback Don Meredith. But even a Dallas Cowboys star, in the late ’60s, could not live anywhere near practice headquarters if his skin was black. Instead, as receiver Bob Hayes put it to author John R. McDermott, “after a game the white players head north and colored players head south … umpteen trillion miles from the practice field and from where everybody else is.”

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Before his death, Pete Gent, a player and the author of “North Dallas Forty,” a book and movie based (albeit exaggeratedly) on the Cowboys, told ESPN, “I was shocked that in mid-60s America, Dallas could have an NFL franchise and the black players could not live near the practice field in North Dallas, which was one of the reasons I titled the book ‘North Dallas Forty.’ I kept asking why the white players put up with their black teammates being forced to live in segregated south Dallas.”

In 1969 defensive back Mel Renfro won a lawsuit against a builder and Realtor after he was rejected the day he and his wife showed up to sign a lease in the Lake Highlands area. The outcome sparked change, Gent has said.

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