Over the decades, Richard Selcer has focused largely on local sagas, such as the rise and fall of Hell’s Half Acre and the lives of early Fort Worth lawmen. Admittedly, those kinds of subjects have lots of appeal. Who doesn’t love stories about gambling, prostitution, and shootouts.
But for his new book, the Fort Worth historian dives into decidedly less sensational yet much more sensitive material. In A History of Fort Worth in Black & White, Selcer explains how Fort Worth’s predominantly African-American neighborhoods and communities came to be. Part biography, part historical narrative, and part social commentary, the result, published by the University of North Texas Press, is a tasty blend of informative and engaging.
In the opening chapter, Selcer provides context to the two centuries of complex race relations in Fort Worth. It all starts with Edward Terrell, a frontier entrepreneur. After selling his herd to officials at nearby Fort Richardson in 1856, he used the proceeds to invest in slaves who were then sold to incoming homesteaders.