The water fountain signs etched in marble had been covered for years by metal plates at the downtown Records Building but one of them was recently discovered and local civil rights leader demanded that county officials remove them.
The commissioners voted 4-1 after an hourlong debate to approve a proposal by Commissioner John Wiley Price, the only black member of the court, to leave the signs and erect signs nearby explaining their context in the history of the city.
Price said later he did not think the presentation of the signs as history would make people think that Dallas is still a racially divided city.
"I at least want them to have some emotion ... either how they dealt with the past and how far we have come or that they have the responsibility to ensure and make sure that their children and our children never repeat that ugly past," he said in a TXCN interview later.
Price, a longtime civil rights leader, said history cannot be covered up and Dallas must recognize that it is better off now than it was in 1927 when the building was erected. He said he was proud of the racial progress the city has made.
Commissioner Ken Mayfield, the lone vote in opposition, said the signs were an embarrassment for the county.
"Should we be reminded of that offensive activity in a public, county-owned building?" he asked, bringing applause from civil rights leaders.
The vote came after the commissioner's court had failed to pass a motion that would have removed the signs from the marble walls. It was then that Price's motion was approved on the 4-1 vote.
Black leaders said they would not drop their fight to remove the signs and possibly bring legal action.
"We will be back asking for the same thing," Joyce Foreman, president of the Dallas chapter of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. "We have no intentions of going away."