By Darwin Campbell, African-American News&Issues
Houston- Taxpayers spend thousands of dollars in property taxes, but when it comes to facing elected officials and have them listen seriously to issues important to the community, “You have 1-minute and 1-minute only” to state your business in the Land of Oz.
Speakers came forward, but it became obvious and fully clear that 1-minute was simply not enough time for any taxpaying citizen to state his or her case or express reasons or concerns for protecting decades of Black history that is now in danger of being erased by Mayor Annise Parker and the Houston City Council.
The legacy of what took years of labor and sweat to build and that was constructed with hard earned money and by the hands sons and daughters of slaves is being rudely trampled on by officials in the name of Anglo-American greed and progress.
The Freedmen’s Town Coalition is petitioning the City of Houston to use preservative rather than restorative methods when revamping historic Andrews and Wilson Streets in Freedman’s Town/Fourth Ward – a request that appears to fall on deaf ears, especially since citizens only have 1-minute to talk about why it is important to preserve African-American history.
“We hope you consider the work and sweat of ex-slaves who put together their nickels, dimes and quarters together the do this,” said New Zion Temple Pastor John Tate. “This is a forgotten part of our history and we hope you care enough to preserve and restore it.”
It appears that preserving Black history is just not the priority of the elected officials on this council.
District C Ellen Cohen let citizens know of her lack of compassion for Black history by blaming residents about street decay and reminding the groups how insignificant it is to her – an it is her own district she represents.
“The streets are in deplorable condition…people are even taking the bricks,” she said. “…We also have storm sewers, water piping and electrical lines, roads and sidewalks to repair. That’s the balance we face.”
To freedom fighters working on the issues, nothing is more important than saving Black history and the group means business when it comes to telling the city and officials about saving the remaining elements of the Black settlement that has been slowly taken and is vanishing.
The city did not pay for one brick, but now is not listening to historians and wants to step in and dictate to African-Americans how it will treat its history.
Settled on the banks of the Buffalo Bayou, in 1865, Black Freedmen descended upon Houston from plantations throughout Texas to make a community for themselves as freedmen and women.
Being tired of walking and slopping around in Houston swamp’s mud and after appealing to the city for support for street improvements in which they did not get.
Leaders of Freedmen’s Town worked and galvanized the residents to pay for their bricks on their own and to make their own improvements with bricks made at the Pullman Brick Company, a black owned business.
For nearly 20 years, several local Freedmen’s Town organizations have worked to preserve Freedmen’s Town.
Doris Ellis Robinson, president of Freedman’s Town group, reminded the council that 106 Review and the Historic Preservation Act should not something to take lightly.
“We must preserve these streets with the best available technology,” she said. “We have to get it right. Once you destroy it, you do not get a do over.”