Five stories that have North Texas talking: Cedar Hill’s largely black community does not feel welcome at the nearby state park, a researcher found; meet the North Texas gymnasts hoping to compete in Rio; a 16-year-old golden retriever from Ground Zero died in Texas; and more.
Cedar Hill, Texas is a predominantly middle-class, African-American community. One of the popular attractions in town is Cedar Hill State Park, but a recent study showed very few African Americans visit. It’s not a fluke — U.S. national and state parks are frequented mostly by white people rather than minorities, and Dr. KangJae Lee conducted research to learn why.
Lee, a graduate from Texas A&M and current assistant teaching professor at the University of Missouri, conducted 15 interviews with African American residents of Cedar Hill for qualitative research, according to his conversation with Texas Standard. “Many of them pointed to 'white flight,' when white residents move out after African-American residents move in, as a reason they felt uncomfortable in their neighborhood and, by extension, the park surrounding it.”
The study cited current and historical racial discrimination as well as an absence of African American history represented within the park for the low turnout of black patrons, according to Futurity. “Lee says that Cedar Hill State Park was once a large plantation run by a family who owned slaves. The historical sites at the park make no mention of this history, which Lee says adds to the resentment from the black community.”
To work against years of oppression, Lee suggests younger generations should be introduced to parks early in life to understand — through inclusive public programming and frequent exposure — the benefits of parks for all people, according to Texas Standard and Futurity. Read the study in Leisure Sciences. [Texas Standard, Futurity, Leisure Sciences]
- After giving up dreams of playing basketball, a high school junior decides what’s next. Ricky Rijos, Jr. is one of several North Texas students KERA has been following since eighth grade in The Class of ‘17 series. Since we met Rijos four years ago, he has wanted to play professional basketball and worked hard to make varsity. After an injury preventing him from returning to the gym, he’s clearing a new path: early graduation from Flower Mound High School. Hear from Rijos as well as ESPN analyst Fran Fraschilla on what it’s like to move on from dreams of going pro in American Graduate: What’s Next For The Class of ‘17? [KERA News]
- Four North Texas gymnasts are vying for the five coveted spots on Team USA to represent in Rio this summer. Alyssa Baumann, 18, and Madison Kocian, 18, of World Olympic Gymnastics Academy (WOGA) in Plano and Bailie Key, 17, and Ragan Smith, 15, of Texas Dreams in Coppell will compete in the U.S. Olympic Trials on July 8 and July 10 in San Jose, California, according to KXAS. All four gymnasts are training at reputable facilities with strong Olympic legacies. Texas Dreams is run by Kim Zmeskal-Burdette, 1991 all-around world champion and hall of fame member, and WOGA has produced gold medalists like Carly Patterson in 2004 and Nastia Liukin in 2008. Watch the story. [KXAS]
- The last remaining search dog from the Sept. 11 attacks was euthanized in Cypress, Texas on Monday. Bretagne, pronounced “Brit-nee,” was a 16-year-old golden retriever that searched for victims and comforted first responders at Ground Zero when she was just 2 as a newly certified FEMA Search and Rescue dog, according to NPR. Bretagne went on to face the aftermath of Hurricanes Katrina, Rita and Ivan, among other disasters, according to the Texas Engineering Extension Service. She retired at age 9, but continued work as a “goodwill ambassador” and reading assistance dog, NPR reported. Read more about Bretagne. [NPR]
- Janis Joplin’s childhood home in Port Arthur is for sale starting at $500,000. The 1,500-square-foot home has a Texas Historical Commission marker outside confirming she lived at the residence, moving in when she was a preschooler. The Associated Press reported: “Officials with the Museum of the Gulf Coast were contacted about acquiring the house before it went on the market this month — but declined. Museum official Sarah Bellian says not every house can be a museum. She cited upkeep costs and fundraising concerns.” Joplin’s psychedelically painted 1964 Porsche 365C Cabriolet sold for $1.76 million in an auction in December. [The Associated Press]