At a cursory glance, the news about George W. Bush moving into a former whites-only enclave in Texas called Preston Hollow looks to be one of those minor, one-day stories. After all, it's not as if these kinds of covenants are still in existence or are being enforced, right?
But there's a lot more to this story, because it tells us a lot about not just George W. Bush, but about the conservative worldview and how it plays out as governance, and moreover, about the real reasons for the nation's lingering racial divide.
For starters, it's worth remembering that this isn't the first former "sundown suburb" that the Bushes have lived in. When Bush returned to Texas in 1989, he moved to the Dallas suburb of Highland Park, where he lived until becoming governor in 1994.
James Loewen -- who has written the definitive text on the subject, Sundown Towns: A Hidden Dimension of American Racism -- has compiled a Sundown Town database that includes a number of Texas towns, (though not Preston Hollow, an apparent omission; Loewen is adding to this database as evidence comes in). The database describes Highland Park thus:
Highland Park is one of Dallas's most exclusive suburbs. President George W. Bush lived there at one time, and Dick Cheney still maintains a home in Highland Park. When it was developed in 1913, restrictive covenants applied to every home. After Brown v. Board of Education in 1954, Highland Park sent its few black students to school in Dallas rather than allow them to attend Highland Park schools. Eventually this was overturned on the basis of Texas's desegregation laws, to which an alderman suggested that the city ask homeowners to fire their live-in servants (the parents of those black schoolchildren). In 1961, the city of Dallas stopped accepting children from the suburbs, and at least one white employer paid rent for a Dallas address for her black servant's children.