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Mark Spivey
Mark Spivey

My wife and I attended a couple of basketball games at Prairie View A&M University this weekend where they hosted the Alabama State Hornets. We’ve been loyal season ticket holders in all sports for a long time and we support our school. The games were good. The women’s team won and the men’s team lost. What I noticed mostly was the lack of fan turnout. With the exception of the game versus Texas Southern University, I’d estimate season attendance at around 1500 people or less per game. It’s even less during football season with the exception being Homecoming. That’s not good. Our three sons graduated from our proud university along with Julle and me. Our three daughters graduated from Sam Houston State, American Military University, and Texas A&M University at Kingsville. They were hard-headed, but that’s okay; daughters usually are. (Daddy loves y’all). We didn’t care what colleges/universities our kids attended as long as they graduated. THAT was not debatable.

Texas A&M at Kingsville used to be known as “Texas A&I University”. That was before it “joined” the Texas A&M College System in 1989. “Texas A&I” located in the dusty south Texas town of Kingsville, won seven national championships in football, five in the 70s. Many of the locals there despise the name change to “TAMUK” and they still refer to their school as “Texas A&I”. They even have a Facebook page dedicated to it. Other schools “joining” the Texas A&M System since 1990 are: West Texas A&M, formerly known as “West Texas State”, and Texas A&M Commerce, formerly “East Texas State”. I don’t know how the locals responded to those changes…

Over the years there have been some rumblings about the prospects of Prairie View A&M University becoming “Texas A&M University at Prairie View”. I’ve even heard of potential employers referring to former PVAMU students as being “Texas A&M “at” Prairie View” graduates. That ain’t good. It’s an oxymoron as ever. It’s almost a misnomer. No disrespect to our good friends at A&M, but in the eyes of past, present, and future graduates of PVAMU, Prairie View A&M University will ALWAYS be PRIARIE VIEW A&M UNIVERSITY. Just like Texas A&I. Gentrification, (according to Wikipedia) is a trend in urban neighborhoods, which results in increased property values and the displacing of lower-income families and small businesses. In other words, non-blacks are coming into the ‘hood and buying up the properties of poor families and “mom-and-pop” shops and making them too expensive for them (minorities) to afford. Consequently, the entire demographics of the area changes. If you’ve traveled down highway 290 towards Prairie View over the past two years, you should have noticed Highway 99 under construction. It’s a massive project that stretches 36 miles from Highway 59 South and connects to Interstate Highway 45 North. Other major construction projects are also booming from Cypress towards Prairie View to the west. Before you know it, Harris County will extend further into Waller County just like it did when Kingwood was annexed along Highway 59 back in the 90s. Along with that growth comes the need for housing markets and real estate. In its path lies Hockley, Waller, and yes, that small metropolis known as Prairie View, Texas. “People” are coming and they ain’t poor…

The crown jewel of Waller County will soon become PVAMU’s new 25 million dollar stadium. From my understanding, it is being financed by the Texas A&M College System along with monies raised by the PVAMU Family. In my opinion, this is where things start to get a little sticky, so bear with me as I try to put it all together. Here goes:

In my opinion (and I could be wrong), the decision-makers at Texas A&M will not take part in such a tremendous undertaking as this without some assurances/guarantees in place. They know that growth in far west Harris County is inevitable. They also know it’s headed toward Prairie View. Acres of land are being gobbled up down that 290 corridor as fast as you can say “Texas A&M University at Prairie View”. It’s not an urban community but it’s rural. Many African-American families are situated there. They go back many generations. Plus, they own land; LOTS of it! History tells us that along major waterways, railroads, and highways, major cities and communities will begin to sprout up. They’ll need land for that. Walmarts, Mcdonalds, Targets, Whataburgers and Home Depots will appear along those travel routes, too. They’ll need land for that, also. (See where I’m going with this?) Eventually, the “Gentrification of Prairie View” will take place.

In order for PVAMU to pay for our new stadium, we will need help from “different” people. Texas A&M knows that. They also know that the majority of these people will be rich and white. There’s nothing wrong with that. They will buy up all of the land and force the “locals” out. There IS something wrong with that. Did anybody notice how quickly “The Community of Faith” church sprung up in Hockley as well as the new communities around it? Ever been inside and viewed what the makeup of the congregation is? What about that new massive air-conditioning manufacturing facility being built in Waller? Hundreds of new jobs are going to be created there. Who do you think the majority of them are going to? More jobs, more homes, more businesses, more churches, and more schools. All that’s missing is a “new” or “newly named university” with drawing power. Hello, Prairie View. Goodbye PVAMU. I hope I’m wrong…

Texas A&M is going to get their money for helping to finance our new stadium. That’s a given. The question is: how much has PVAMU paid them in advance for it? I’m not talking about money, either. This wouldn’t happen if our alumni and fan base would give back to our university like other schools do. We wouldn’t have to ask anybody for ISH! I pray that it happens, but I don’t think it will. History has proven this. It may be already too late. Gentrification is coming to an HBCU near you. Which HBCU do you think it is?

God bless, goodnight, and keep your families together.