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Widow of former Cowboys player says racism is a ‘dirty secret’ in Southlake

An ugly cloud is hovering over Southlake after a racist video involving several high school students surfaced on Facebook weeks ago in October.

SOUTHLAKE, Texas — The widow of a former Cowboys player and a once Carroll ISD mom tells WFAA that discrimination hasn’t been hard to find while living in the affluent town of Southlake for nearly three decades.

An ugly cloud is hovering over Southlake after a racist video involving several high school students surfaced on Facebook weeks ago in October.

The video, which was not filmed on the Southlake Carroll High School campus, shows several teenage girls chanting the n-word.

Since the video was posted, administrators have since handed down “consequences” to the students involved in the video. District officials haven't elaborated on what those consequences were.

Parents of all ethnicities and backgrounds have flocked to school board and community meetings asking both district and city officials to proactively address racism once the video made headlines.

On Wednesday night, Mayor Laura Hill hosted a discussion on civility with many CISD mothers in attendance.

For Robin Cornish, these moments aren’t why she moved to Southlake in the early ‘90’s. At the time, her husband Frank Cornish had just signed to play on the offensive line with the Cowboys.

“We fell in love with it,” Cornish said. “When we came here we were like, ‘this is it.’ It had everything we wanted.”

Cornish’s husband Frank played at UCLA with Troy Aikman and was picked in the 6th round of the 1990 NFL draft by the San Diego Chargers.

After a brief time in San Diego, Cornish was signed by the Cowboys to play center and guard. He was part of the team’s Super Bowl victories in both 1993 and 1994.

Cornish went on to play with the Vikings, Jaguars, and the Eagles after finishing his last season with Dallas. But he and his wife Robin kept their home in Southlake during all of that time.

It’s where Cornish suddenly died of heart disease in 2008 at the age of 40. “We both grew up in Chicago and he liked the space,” Robin Cornish said. “He enjoyed the cowboy boots and the cattle. All of it.”

Cornish said she and her husband were well liked in Southlake, and never feared or expected discrimination.

But when their 5 kids went through Carroll ISD, the youngest graduating a year ago, Cornish said they realized they were wrong.

“We found out a dark secret was there,” Cornish said. When WFAA asked what that secret was, Cornish simply responded with, “...racism.”

She says her son once came home to tell her about a humiliating taunt a classmate made. “He said that a kid told him a joke,” Cornish said. “How do you get a 'black' out of a tree? You cut the rope.”

Cornish said the bullying didn’t stop there. “When Rosa Parks died, my 4 older kids came home and told me that some kids told them they had to sit at the back of the bus now,” Cornish added.

One time, Cornish said her daughter, who is now 22, wanted to dress up as a nurse during what she called a ‘Colonial Day’ at school. She says a student told her that wasn’t possible.

“A kid told her that she couldn’t be a nurse and that she had to be a slave because 'that’s what you were.'”

This is what cuts deepest, however.

After Cornish hung up his cleats in the NFL, he came back to serve as Chairperson of Southlake Parks and Recreation. He was also a member of the zoning commission. After he died, a small park that he helped design in the town square was dedicated to him.

Last year, it was defaced with hateful messages. “It said ‘KKK will get you, black people,’” Cornish said. “I was appalled. He put so much into this community—I couldn’t believe that someone would disrespect him like this.”

So, Cornish isn’t surprised by what’s happening in Southlake right now. But every town doesn’t get through a difficult time without uniting.

Cornish said that’s what her husband would want if he were here, for the community to come together—like they so often do at his park. “He’s looking down right now and I know he’s wounded,” Cornish said. “We have to stand for something, or we will fall for everything.”

A discussion similar to the one Mayor Hill had with CISD mothers Wednesday will be held with CISD fathers in the coming weeks.

Southlake's population is just under 27,000 according to the 2010 Census. Info from that Census showed that the average household income was more than $194,000.

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