Awty Celebrates Black History Month
February is Black History Month. To celebrate the rich history of Black Americans in Houston and Southeast Texas, a list of news articles about some of the prominent people/events in Black history will be posted below. These posts will be made every school day during the month of February beginning Monday, February 1.
- February 1 - Juneteenth
- February 2 - Jack Yates
- February 3 - Freedmen's Town
- February 4 - Antioch Baptist Church
- February 5 - College Park Cemetary
- February 8 - Kendleton, Texas
- February 9 - Norris Wright Cuney
- February 10 - the Camp Logan Riot
- February 11 - ELDORADO BALLROOM
- February 12 - Sweatt V. Painter: Nearly Forgotten, But Landmark Texas Integration Case
- February 22 - History of Texas Southern University
- February 22 - Mack Hanna, Jr.
- February 23 - The TSU Riot
- February 23 - The Groovey Grill
- February 24 - Barbara Jordan
- February 24 - George Mickey Island
- February 25 - The Ensemble Theater
- February 25 - Tennis pioneers: Garrison and McNeil from Houston to Centre Court
- February 26 - Lee Brown
- February 26 - Beyoncé Knowles
- February 26 - Lizzo
If you visit Galveston, make sure to walk down to the end of the strand near where the cruise ships board. There is a historic marker there that gives the history of Juneteenth and the Emancipation of slaves in Texas.
History of Juneteenth ©JUNETEENTH.com
Juneteenth is the oldest nationally celebrated commemoration of the ending of slavery in the United States. Dating back to 1865, it was on June 19 that the Union soldiers, led by Major General Gordon Granger, landed at Galveston, Texas with news that the war had ended and that the enslaved were now free. Note that this was two and a half years after President Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation - which had become official January 1, 1863. The Emancipation Proclamation had little impact on the Texans due to the minimal number of Union troops to enforce the new Executive Order. However, with the surrender of General Lee in April of 1865, and the arrival of General Granger’s regiment, the forces were finally strong enough to influence and overcome the resistance.
Later attempts to explain this two and a half year delay in the receipt of this important news have yielded several versions that have been handed down through the years. Often told is the story of a messenger who was murdered on his way to Texas with the news of freedom. Another, is that the news was deliberately withheld by the enslavers to maintain the labor force on the plantations. And still another, is that federal troops actually waited for the slave owners to reap the benefits of one last cotton harvest before going to Texas to enforce the Emancipation Proclamation. All of which, or neither of these version could be true. Certainly, for some, President Lincoln's authority over the rebellious states was in question. For whatever the reasons, conditions in Texas remained status quo well beyond what was statutory.
General Order Number 3
One of General Granger’s first orders of business was to read to the people of Texas, General Order Number 3 which began most significantly with:
"The people of Texas are informed that in accordance with a Proclamation from the Executive of the United States, all slaves are free. This involves an absolute equality of rights and rights of property between former masters and slaves, and the connection heretofore existing between them becomes that between employer and hired laborer."
The reactions to this profound news ranged from pure shock to immediate jubilation. While many lingered to learn of this new employer to employee relationship, many left before these offers were completely off the lips of their former 'masters' - attesting to the varying conditions on the plantations and the realization of freedom. Even with nowhere to go, many felt that leaving the plantation would be their first grasp of freedom. North was a logical destination and for many it represented true freedom, while the desire to reach family members in neighboring states drove the some into Louisiana, Arkansas and Oklahoma. Settling into these new areas as free men and women brought on new realities and the challenges of establishing a heretofore non-existent status for black people in America. Recounting the memories of that great day in June of 1865 and its festivities would serve as motivation as well as a release from the growing pressures encountered in their new territory. The celebration of June 19 was coined "Juneteenth" and grew with more participation from descendants. The Juneteenth celebration was a time for reassuring each other, for praying and for gathering remaining family members. Juneteenth continued to be highly revered in Texas decades later, with many former slaves and descendants making an annual pilgrimage back to Galveston on this date.
Juneteenth Festivities and Food
A range of activities were provided to entertain the masses, many of which continue in tradition today. Rodeos, fishing, barbecuing and baseball are just a few of the typical Juneteenth activities you may witness today. Juneteenth almost always focused on education and self improvement. Thus, often guest speakers are brought in and the elders are called upon to recount the events of the past. Prayer services were also a major part of these celebrations.
Certain foods became popular and subsequently synonymous with Juneteenth celebrations such as strawberry soda-pop. More traditional and just as popular was the barbecuing, through which Juneteenth participants could share in the spirit and aromas that their ancestors - the newly emancipated African Americans, would have experienced during their ceremonies. Hence, the barbecue pit is often established as the center of attention at Juneteenth celebrations.
Food was abundant because everyone prepared a special dish. Meats such as lamb, pork and beef which not available everyday were brought on this special occasion. A true Juneteenth celebrations left visitors well satisfied and with enough conversation to last until the next.
Dress was also an important element in early Juneteenth customs and is often still taken seriously, particularly by the direct descendants who can make the connection to this tradition's roots. During slavery there were laws on the books in many areas that prohibited or limited the dressing of the enslaved. During the initial days of the emancipation celebrations, there are accounts of former slaves tossing their ragged garments into the creeks and rivers to adorn clothing taken from the plantations belonging to their former 'masters'.
Juneteenth and Society
In the early years, little interest existed outside the African American community in participation in the celebrations. In some cases, there was outwardly exhibited resistance by barring the use of public property for the festivities. Most of the festivities found themselves out in rural areas around rivers and creeks that could provide for additional activities such as fishing, horseback riding and barbecues. Often, the church grounds was the site for such activities. Eventually, as African Americans became land owners, land was donated and dedicated for these festivities. One of the earliest documented land purchases in the name of Juneteenth was organized by Rev. Jack Yates. This fund-raising effort yielded $1000 and the purchase of Emancipation Park in Houston, Texas. In Mexia, the local Juneteenth organization purchased Booker T. Washington Park, which had become the Juneteenth celebration site in 1898. There are accounts of Juneteenth activities being interrupted and halted by white landowners demanding that their laborers return to work. However, it seems most allowed their workers the day off and some even made donations of food and money. For decades these annual celebrations flourished, growing continuously with each passing year. In Booker T. Washington Park, as many as 20,000 African Americans once flowed through during the course of a week, making the celebration one of the state’s largest.
Juneteenth Celebrations Decline
Economic and cultural forces provided for a decline in Juneteenth activities and participants beginning in the early 1900’s. Classroom and textbook education in lieu of traditional home and family-taught practices stifled the interest of the youth due to less emphasis and detail on the activities of former slaves. Classroom text books proclaimed Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation of January 1, 1863 as the date signaling the ending of slavery - and little or nothing on the impact of General Granger’s arrival on June 19th.
The Depression forced many people off the farms and into the cities to find work. In these urban environments, employers were less eager to grant leaves to celebrate this date. Thus, unless June 19 fell on a weekend or holiday, there were very few participants available. July 4 was the already established Independence holiday and a rise in patriotism steered more toward this celebration.
The Civil Rights movement of the 50’s and 60’s yielded both positive and negative results for the Juneteenth celebrations. While it pulled many of the African American youth away and into the struggle for racial equality, many linked these struggles to the historical struggles of their ancestors. This was evidenced by student demonstrators involved in the Atlanta civil rights campaign in the early 1960’s, whom wore Juneteenth freedom buttons. Again in 1968, Juneteenth received another strong resurgence through Poor Peoples March to Washington D.C.. Rev. Ralph Abernathy’s call for people of all races, creeds, economic levels and professions to come to Washington to show support for the poor. Many of these attendees returned home and initiated Juneteenth celebrations in areas previously absent of such activity. In fact, two of the largest Juneteenth celebrations founded after this March are now held in Milwaukee and Minneapolis.
Texas Blazes the Trail
On January 1, 1980, Juneteenth became an official state holiday through the efforts of Al Edwards, an African American state legislator. The successful passage of this bill marked Juneteenth as the first emancipation celebration granted official state recognition. Edwards has since actively sought to spread the observance of Juneteenth all across America.
Juneteenth In Modern Times
Today, Juneteenth is enjoying a phenomenal growth rate within communities and organizations throughout the country. Institutions such as the Smithsonian, the Henry Ford Museum and others have begun sponsoring Juneteenth-centered activities. In recent years, a number of local and national Juneteenth organizations have arisen to take their place along side older organizations - all with the mission to promote and cultivate knowledge and appreciation of African American history and culture.
Juneteenth today, celebrates African American freedom and achievement, while encouraging continuous self-development and respect for all cultures. As it takes on a more national, symbolic and even global perspective, the events of 1865 in Texas are not forgotten, for all of the roots tie back to this fertile soil from which a national day of pride is growing.
The future of Juneteenth looks bright as the number of cities and states creating Juneteenth committees continues to increase. Respect and appreciation for all of our differences grow out of exposure and working together. Getting involved and supporting Juneteenth celebrations creates new bonds of friendship and understanding among us. This indeed, brightens our future - and that is the Spirit of Juneteenth.
History of Juneteenth ©JUNETEENTH.com
Antioch Missionary Baptist Church, Houston.
Reverend John Henry (Jack) Yates.
YATES, JOHN HENRY [JACK] (1828-1897)
John Henry (Jack) Yates, slave and minister, son of slaves Robert and Rachel Yates, was born in Gloucester County, Virginia, on July 11, 1828. When Rachel's mistress, Mrs. Fields, died, Rachel was given the task of caring for the Fields child, who eventually taught Jack how to read, although to do so was illegal. Jack took his reader, Bible, and songbook to the field with him and would steal out at night and read by the light of a pine knot. He made small amounts of money from fishing. When he was a young man he attended the slaves' religious gatherings and was converted. He married Harriet Willis, of a neighboring farm; they had eleven children. When Harriet's master moved to Matagorda County, Texas, about 1863, Yates, unable to bear the thought of being separated from his wife and children, begged to go along. Upon emancipation in June 1865, the Yates family went to Houston to look for work. Jack became a drayman by day and a Baptist preacher at night and on Sundays. The Home Missionary Society had sent a black man, Isaac Sydney Campbell, to do mission work among the African Americans in Texas, and Campbell, needing help, began to send Yates to hold meetings in Houston and elsewhere. This led to Yates's ordination as a Baptist preacher by Campbell and Elder J. J. Ryanhart. When Antioch Missionary Baptist Church, the first black Baptist church in Houston, was organized in 1866 by Reverend Crane, a white preacher, Yates was called as the first pastor. He and others moved the congregation to a more desirable location. Martha, Yates's oldest child, cooked for the bricklayers, carpenters, and laborers as they constructed the building. Under his leadership, Antioch Missionary Baptist Church and Trinity Methodist Episcopal Church purchased Emancipation Park on Dowling Street for the black people of Houston in 1872. A dispute about a pay-as-you-go remodeling plan caused Yates to leave Antioch and organize Bethel Baptist Church in 1891. The queen of England visited Antioch Church on May 22, 1991.
Jack Yates High School, 1927.
In 1869 Yates bought several lots on what is now Andrews Street, where his house still stands; he thus became a homeowner less than five years after his emancipation. He was instrumental in organizing the first Baptist association for blacks in Houston, the Old Land Mark Association, which exists today. Under the direction of two white missionaries, Jennie L. Peck and Florence Dysart, Yates organized Houston Academy, a school for black children, in 1885. He tried unsuccessfully to have Bishop College located in Houston, and then assisted in placing it in Marshall. After Harriet Yates died, Yates married Annie Freeman, on October 13, 1888; they had one child. Yates died on December 22, 1897. Jack Yates High School in Houston was named in his honor in 1926. Yates's son Willis bought farmland and may have been the only black man in Harris County during the latter part of the 1880s to buy, own, and operate a steam cotton gin. He also operated a small store. Rutherford, another son, was raised by white missionaries and received his A.B. degree from Bishop College. He was a teacher and founder of Yates Printing Company of Houston, now in Austin. He was coauthor of The Life and Efforts of Jack Yates, published by Texas Southern University Press in 1985. His brother and coauthor Paul graduated from Prairie View A&M and taught at Houston Academy. Yates's daughter Maria did mission work around the country. Five of Yates's other children taught school. In 1994 John Henry Yates's home was moved from Andrews Street to Sam Houston Park in Houston and restored to its original 1870s configuration. The home was donated by his granddaughter, Mrs. Whiting, and is available for tours through the Harris County Heritage Society.
Gentrification has taken away most of the old “Freedman’s town in 4th ward. Freedmen’s town is the oldest black community in Houston. Only a few homes, and a few original brick streets are there to remind us of the old community.
Freedmen's Town, Houston Texas (1865-Current)
by Nathan Rivet
Freedmen’s Town is a nationally registered historical site. The site was originally a community located in the fourth ward of Houston, Texas that began in 1865 as the destination for former enslaved people from surrounding plantations in Texas and Louisiana after the Civil War.
Freedmen’s Town is located southwest of downtown. After emancipation was proclaimed in Texas on June 19, 1865, former slaves began migrating to Austin, Dallas, Galveston, and other cities, but the largest migration was to Houston. Many of these newcomers traveled along San Felipe Road into the city from Brazos River Plantations south and southwest of Houston. Once there they paved many of the streets in brick. These new residents established a community where they were able to live mostly without the daily onslaught of racism and discrimination.
Freedmen’s Town quickly developed as a cultural center with the establishment of Antioch Missionary Baptist Church (1866) followed by other churches and social and cultural institutions. The community and the larger fourth ward black community that grew around it was prosperous well into the early 20th Century. By 1930, Fourth Ward held approximately one third of Houston’s 36,000 African Americans and was famous for its many businesses that included restaurants and jazz night clubs which attracted even white Houstonians to the area.
Freedmen's Town, Houston, Texas, September 9, 2014. Photo by Patrick Feller (CC BY 2.0)
Despite this apparent social and economic prosperity, black Houstonians and especially Freedmen’s Town residents were limited by a segregated environment which denied access to most city services and formal rules and informal practices that prevented them from gaining better jobs. In 1929, the Houston City Planning Commission proposed a permanent geographical and racial segregation of Houston that limited black residence to the Second, Fourth, and Fifth Wards. While the Houston City Council refused to adopt such a plan (partly because it was illegal), blacks in Freedman’s Town and the Fourth Ward faced restrictive covenants and redlining practices that prevented African American mobility to most other parts of the city. Some fortunate middle class black residents were able to move to other racially segregated, but newer communities in South Houston including Studewood, South Park, Riverside Terrace, Kashmere Gardens, and Acres Homes.
Meanwhile the original Freedman’s Town community was threatened in the 1930s by the expansion of downtown Houston. Parts of the district were replaced by the new City Hall, the Albert Thomas Convention Center, the Gulf Freeway, the Allen Parkway Village, a public housing project. On the eve of World War II other parts of the district were replaced by San Felipe Courts, one of the largest public housing projects in the city’s history. Initially Houston government officials promised that Freedmen’s Town residents would have access to San Felipe Courts but after the United States entered World War II, the project was reserved for white military families. Authorities even constructed a wall between San Felipe Courts and what remained of Freedmen’s Town. The housing project would not allow black residents until 1968.
In the 1970s, historic preservation groups, recognizing that most of Freedmen’s Town had already been lost to newer development, began to work to save the remaining homes, churches, and businesses. They persuaded the U.S. government to designate Freedmen’s Town a nationally registered historical site in 1985. Other organizations such as the Rutherford B. H. Yates Museum which was founded in the community in 1996, continue to work today to save the houses and brick-paved streets laid out by freedmen in the 1860s, from further destruction and redevelopment.
A Brief History ©AMBCHouston.org
In January of 1866, seven months after slaves were freed in Texas (June 19, 1865), a small group of freed slaves organized the first African American Baptist Church in Houston, Texas. They were assisted by the First Baptist Church and missionaries.
After holding worship services at the First Baptist Church and the German Baptist Church, they began to hold services on Buffalo Bayou in a "Brush Arbor." Later, they moved to "Baptist Hill" located at Rusk and Bagby until the present site was purchased. Services were conducted by ministers who traveled to different locations, at stated times.
In 1868, one of Antioch's members, Jack Yates, was ordained at the first Association meeting for African American Baptist Churches. This was the first National Baptist Convention. Rev. Jack Yates became the first pastor of Antioch.
As the membership grew and additional space was needed, Rev. Yates led the church to purchase its present site and build a brick structure. The church, located in the center of Freedman's Town, was the center of activity for the African-American community. It was the first brick structure built and owned by African-Americans in Houston.
Antioch provided the former slaves with opportunities to learn not only about God, but also provided ministries to help them develop educationally, economically and socially.
The first educational opportunity for freed African-Americans began at Antioch. With the help of two missionaries, Rev. Yates began the Baptist Academy. The Baptist Academy taught fundamentals such as: reading, writing, and arithmetic,; in addition to trades, thus enabling men and women to start their own businesses. The Baptist Academy later became Houston College. Houston College was the forerunner of Texas Southern University.
Economic development and recreational activities were also encouraged and supported at Antioch. The Old Landmark Baptist Association of Texas was organized at Antioch. Under Rev. Yates' leadership, members were encouraged and assisted in buying property, owning homes and businesses.
The Emancipation Park, in conjunction with Trinity Methodist Church, was purchased for recreational activities and community celebrations, such as the 19 of June.
With the vision and support of Rev. Yates and Antioch, the first African-American College in the state of Texas began. This was Bishop College.
Just as they did then, Antioch's congregation and leaders continue to provide needed and vital services to the Houston community.
College Park is one of Houston’s three oldest and most historic Black burying grounds (along with Evergreen Negro and Olivewood Cemeteries). It was founded in 1896 by Adam Clay with an investment of $1000. The name resulted from its location across the street from Houston Central College for Negros (1894 – 1921). The first documented interment, Margaret Whitman, occurred on September 21, 1897. Due to its close proximity to the historic Fourth Ward, it was initially burial lots for freed slaves who migrated to Houston following the War Between the States. Over the years many of the Black community’s leading citizens – religious, civic, business, educational – were interred here as are veterans of WW I and II and participants in the 1917 Camp Logan Riot. College Park was abandoned in the 1970s, became overgrown, vandalized and a magnet for the addicted and homeless. For the next 40 years all efforts to save the property failed. Thankfully, through the efforts of Rev. Robert Robertson and the College Park Cemetery Association, it is on its way to returning to its former glory. In 2002 it was designated a Texas State Historical Cemetery.
Oh seek me not within a tomb
Thou shall not find me in the clay
Pierce a little wall of gloom
To mingle with the day.
Brooks, Pinkie (1884-1925) – Unknown Occupation – Writing of epitaphs has become a lost art. The most creative gravestones today offer up the deceased’s name, birthday and date of death. Therefore, when we encounter a great epitaph we write it down in our cemetery notebook. We do not know a thing about this gentleman, but could not resist sharing his epitaph.
Browse below to view a few of the graves located in College Park Cemetery.
Cornish, Jennie (1858-1911) – Housewife – Born in Indian Territory, Jennie migrated to Houston and married John Cornish who was a blacksmith. They had three children: Charles and Loomis (brick workers) and Bertha (housewife).
Hill, Halley Mae – (June 4, 1918 – August 5, 1918) – Baby – There are a number of infants buried in College Park. Most are only identified on their gravestone as “Baby” or “Infant.” Carrie and Eddie Hill’s two month old daughter passed away and has her own marker.
Jones, Earl – Sculptor – Fortunately, this Black Galveston artist is alive and well and sculpted a tree killed by Hurricane Ike into a wonderful piece of art for College Park. Jones is famous for creating the numerous tree sculptures in Galveston out of many of the trees drowned by standing salt water following Ike. You can’t miss it. Enter through the cemetery gate and walk a dozen or so paces south and look to your right.
Jones, Solomon (1875-1960) – Grocer – Jones lived in Freedmen’s Town where he operated a grocery store. In addition he owned his homestead. Over the years he made extra cash working as an elevator operator, watchman and hotel pantry man. In 1930, he purchased a radio, one of only a few in the neighborhood. Neighbors would come from blocks around to hear this high technology form of entertainment. His wife, Winnie, was a chambermaid.
Terrell, Marcelite E. (1866-1924) – Educator – She was a native of Louisiana. Her father, a slave by birth, became the first Black mayor in America in 1868 (Donaldson, Louisiana). He later served in the Louisiana Legislature. Following her marriage to Isaiah Terrell in 1883 the couple moved to Houston where she became a college professor.
Terrell, Isaiah Milligan – (1861-1931) – Educator – Born as a slave in Texas, when he became a free man Terrell quickly realized how important education would be in allowing former slaves to get on the road to prosperity. He established the first school for these individuals in Fort Worth. From 1915 until 1918 Terrell served as President of Prairie View A&M University. He moved to Houston to accept the Presidency of Houston College in 1918. Terrell was a founder and first administrator of the Negro Hospital in Houston, a facility that operates today as Riverside General. He and his wife, Marcelite, lived on the street that runs in front of College Park Cemetery.
Sessums, John Jr. (1849-1928) – Musician – Organized in 1873, the Texas Light Guard is one of the oldest National Guard units in Texas. It mobilized nine times to maintain peace in Houston and once in Galveston, following the Great Storm of 1900. During the Spanish-American War of 1898 these soldiers were sent to support the U. S. Army in Cuba. They were famous for their brilliant reputation in military drills. The Guard won over $40,000 in cash and prizes and finally were no longer invited to competitions, as they seemed invincible. Sessums was the only Black member of the Guard and was named Perpetual Drummer.
Smith, Clara Nell (1927-1952) – Clerk – This native born Texas single woman worked as a clerk in a Houston jewelry store. Her life came to a tragic end on August 13, 1952 when she suffered an appendix attack and died on the operating table.
Lights, Frederick Lee (1859-1921) – Reverend – He was born in Louisiana but moved to Texas in 1871. Lights was ordained as a Baptist minister in 1882. Sometime thereafter, he relocated to Houston, settling in Freedman’s Town. Soon he was elected pastor of Antioch Baptist Church and president of Western Star Publishing.
Fort Bend County Sesquicentennial, 1822–1972 (Richmond, Texas: Fort Bend County Sesquicentennial Association, 1972). S. A. McMillan, comp., The Book of Fort Bend County (Richmond?, Texas, 1926). Vertical Files, Dolph Briscoe Center for American History, University of Texas at Austin.
The History of Kendleton shows some slave masters were concerned about the future of the slaves they once owned. When slavery ended, William Kendall broke his plantation into small plots and sold them to his slaves at minimal cost. The freedmen created the town of Kendleton. At the time of emancipation it is important to note that Fort Bend County was 90% African American.
Kendleton is at the intersection of U.S. Highway 59 and Farm Road 2919, 14 miles southwest of Rosenberg in western Fort Bend County. It was once the site of a plantation belonging to William E. Kendall. In the 1860's, Kendall divided the plantation into small farms, which he sold to former slaves. The community that resulted became known as Kendleton. In 1882 the New York, Texas and Mexican Railway Company laid track between Rosenberg and Victoria, passing through Kendleton. A post office was established in 1884 with Benjamin F. Williams as postmaster. In 1890, Kendleton had a general store and 25 residents; by 1896 it had grown to include three general stores and a Methodist and a Baptist church, which served some 2,000 people in the surrounding rural area. The census of 1900 reported 116 residents in the town itself. The Kendleton schools also served a wider population than Kendleton proper. In 1903, the community had two schools for 12 white students and three schools for 202 black students. The population of Kendleton fell to 36 in 1933, but rose again to 100 by the late 1940's. It fluctuated between 150 and 200 in the 1960's and early 1970's but, after voters chose to incorporate Kendleton in 1973, rose to more than 600. In 1990, Kendleton reported 496 residents. Locals estimated that there were around 2,200 people in the town and the surrounding area; however the 2000 census still reported a population of 466.
CUNEY, NORRIS WRIGHT (1846–1898)
Portrait of Norris Wright Cuney. Image available on the Internet and included in accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107.
Norris Wright Cuney, politician, the fourth of eight children born to a white planter, Philip Minor Cuney, and a slave mother, Adeline Stuart, was born on May 12, 1846, near Hempstead, Texas. He attended George B. Vashon's Wylie Street School for blacks in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, from 1859 to the beginning of the Civil War. Afterward he wandered on riverboats and worked at odd jobs before he returned to Texas and settled in Galveston. There he met George T. Ruby, president of the Union League. Cuney studied law and by July 18, 1871, was appointed president of the Galveston Union League. He married Adelina Dowdie on July 5, 1871, and to their union were born a son and a daughter, Maud Cuney-Hare.
Cuney was a supporter of Edmund J. Davis, and his career in the 1870's and 1880's was a mixture of success and failure. In 1873, he was appointed secretary of the Republican State Executive Committee. He was defeated in the race for mayor of Galveston in 1875 and for the state House and Senate in 1876 and 1882 respectively. However, in appointed offices and as a dispenser of patronage, Cuney was powerful. From his appointment as the first assistant to the sergeant-at-arms of the Twelfth Legislature in 1870, he went on to serve as a delegate to every national Republican convention from 1872 to 1892. In 1873, he presided at the state convention of black leaders at Brenham (see black state conventions). He became inspector of customs of the port of Galveston and revenue inspector at Sabine Pass in 1872, special inspector of customs at Galveston in 1882, and finally collector of customs of the port of Galveston in 1889.
In 1883, Cuney was elected alderman on the Galveston City Council from the Twelfth District, a post that left him time to work simultaneously as a leader of the Republican party and a contracting stevedore. In 1886, he became Texas national committeeman of the Republican party, the most important political position given to a black man of the South in the nineteenth century. One historian of the Republican party in Texas characterizes the period between 1884 and 1896 as the "Cuney Era."
In order to lead Texas blacks to increased prosperity, in 1883 Cuney bought $2,500 worth of tools and called together a group of black dockworkers, which he eventually organized into the Screwmen's Benevolent Association. He carried this fledgling organization into open competition. He was also strongly committed to education. He was appointed school director of Galveston County in 1871 and supported the black state college at Prairie View (now Prairie View A&M University).
Cuney was first grand master of the Prince Hall Masons in Texas from 1875 to 1877. He also belonged to the Knights of Pythias and the Odd Fellows. He died on March 3, 1898, in San Antonio and was buried in Lake View Cemetery, Galveston.
Camp Logan, circa 1917, was a World War I army training facility located where Memorial Park is now.
Around 2:00 a.m. on a sticky August night in 1917, a 35-year-old Army sergeant named Vida Henry sat exhausted and bleeding by the Southern Pacific railroad tracks just west of downtown Houston. As he watched his men slowly melt into the darkness, the first steps of a long trudge toward a dubious future, there was only one task remaining.
For the previous five hours, Henry had led the soldiers of I Company on a march through town with a single objective - retribution. Now it was done. Houston stood awash in blood and fear, with more than two dozen bodies in the streets, the morgue and local hospitals.
None of this was imaginable a month earlier when the Third Battalion of the 24th Infantry rolled into the city. Henry watched it build day by day, the anger that finally boiled over on a rainy Thursday afternoon. His African-American soldiers absorbed the abusive treatment by white citizens, especially the police, until the moment they decided not to. He saw the fury in their eyes as they raised their rifles.
Now Henry had seen enough. As the soldiers declared their intention to head back to camp, many expected him to lead them. He said no. "Ain't going in," he said. "Ain't going to camp no more." Only one thing was on his mind. He wanted one of his soldiers to finish him off. One by one, he asked them. Each refused. At last, they picked up their rifles and turned to go. Henry reached for his as well, ready to inflict the last death on a night devoted to it.
The largest murder trial in the history of the United States. Scene during Court Martial of 64 members of the 24th Infantry U.S.A. on trial for mutiny and murder of 17 people at Houston, Texas on August 23, 1917. Trial held in Gift Chapel Fort, Sam Houston. The Houston Riot of 1917. Buyenlarge, Getty Images
The scene of a major riot in 1927 in which 17 people were killed. Undated street scene, Camp Logan, Houston, Texas.
Historians would record the Camp Logan Mutiny as an event without true precedent, a deadly and premeditated assault by black army soldiers on a white population. The immediate effect was 16 dead, including five police officers, and 22 wounded (although accounts of the precise number have varied). That was followed months later by the largest murder trial on record, soon followed by two more, with 19 men sent to the gallows and 53 handed life sentences. The greater upshot was a lasting stain on the U.S. military and especially the 24th Infantry, whose proud history would henceforth contain a horrible chapter.
A century has passed since the events of August 23, 1917; ample time to digest the horrific violence, reflect on its causes, make some sense of how such a thing could happen in 20th century America or perhaps how it was bound to, and then interpret and reinterpret the lessons for later generations.
None of that took place. The soldiers' rebellious acts - cold-blooded murder or militant self-defense - were buried along with the bodies that lay lifeless on the streets late into that sweltering summer night, and the bodies hauled down from the gallows not long thereafter. The city moved on. Save for the families of the dead, black and white, there seemed a conscious desire not to remember an event that fit into no useful narrative.
"Yes, they buried it - they had rejected this story for years," said local playwright Celeste Bedford Walker, who brought it back to life in 1987 with her play Camp Logan. "Houston was an up-and-coming type of town. Even though it was the South, it wasn't the 'South' South. A black man, if he kept his head down, could make it here. No one really wanted this story out."
This account is based on trial testimony, U.S. military records, contemporaneous press accounts, and subsequent writings about the event, including historian Robert Haynes' thorough retelling of the mutiny, A Night of Violence (Louisiana State University Press, 1976).
Camp Logan barely outlasted World War I. The ground it sat on became what is now Memorial Park. By the 1930's, the East Texas oil boom fed the continuing transformation of what had been only the state's third largest city. Houston business leaders wanted to project an image of New South opportunity, for white and black alike. Many of the city's black residents had been leaving as part of the Great Migration to the north, where industrial employment offered the potential for a better life. That was a problem. Picking at the scab covering the Camp Logan killings was not perceived to be in anyone's interest.
Over the years the echoes of this furious moment grew fainter until at last they were mostly gone. If no one mentioned it or saw good purpose in reconstructing an ugly tale with no heroes, then it might as well have never happened. Of course, there was another reason for Houston to let it go, one that became more apparent as the civil rights movement began to take root.
"It raises the specter of black violence," said Chad Williams, a Brandeis University history professor who specializes in the African-American military experience. "This is really critical. Going back to antebellum days, one of the great fears was black people taking up arms and fighting back in retribution for the racist treatment they had endured. That is what happened in Houston. That is a possibility that the nation still shudders at."
Follow the path the soldiers took. Ken Ellis, Houston Chronicle.
Leading up to the attack...
With America's entry into World War I, black units were pressed into duty in support roles as the Army mobilized. The task of the Third Battalion of the 24th Infantry that summer was to do guard work for a cantonment under construction in Houston, Camp Logan. The city celebrated the new base, but the decision by the War Department to send in the black soldiers was disliked by white civic leaders, who registered a mild protest. Even a few black leaders considered it a bad idea and said so publicly, which inspired a Houston congressman to redouble his efforts the have the unit posted elsewhere.
Fresh in the minds of many was a major race riot at the beginning of June in East St. Louis, Ill., in which a white mob invaded the city, burned down many of its buildings, and killed more than 100 African-American residents. That arose out of a labor dispute, but still. And some officers in the upper ranks of the 24th were just as nervous, recalling previous problems when black regiments had been sent to Texas.
The military stuck to its decision, pointing out that the assignment was to last only seven weeks and that the men were to be quartered on the edge of town. Upon arrival, the Third Battalion's commander assured leading citizens who greeted him that the men were never armed except while on sentry duty, had a sterling record of overall personal conduct, and would not live at the camp proper but in a special "Negro camp" a mile or so east. There would be a dance hall and cafe next to the camp for the black soldiers, and local black residents would get ample visitation privileges so as to further reduce trips into town.
The soldiers of the 24th Infantry, a descendant of the "Buffalo Soldier" regiments of the western frontier, had a proud history and had recently served with distinction in the Philippines and Mexico. Wherever they had been sent, their race had never overtly been an issue. On July 28, as they got to Houston, they found it was all that mattered. A black man in military uniform was an affront to what local whites viewed as the southern way of life.
In a land ruled by Jim Crow, the soldiers were told to sit only in the back of streetcars, to drink from specified water sources, to ignore the daily barrage of insults and epithets, and to treat white people deferentially, especially police officers. Every encounter, it seemed, carried the sting of slur. The soldiers felt it daily, from the police more than anyone. When they talked back, the townsfolk fumed and the cops became increasingly violent. Small incidents grew until they became a constant headache for city officials and camp commanders.
As the weeks passed, the soldiers' anger tipped toward rage. Increasingly willing to spout off to abusive police officers - virtually the entire force was white and defiantly racist - they suffered assault and arrest without striking back. Adding to their frustration was a belief that the white officers who topped their ranks were doing little to stand up for them and stop the daily denigration.
By the halfway point of their stay, both city leaders and the unit's senior officers were on edge. Fear was rising that something - anything - might spark a major incident. They were right.
On August 23, reports began to reach camp that one of their own was dead. Charles Baltimore, a popular corporal of I Company, supposedly had been shot by Lee Sparks, who along with partner Rufus Daniels were the most feared and despised officers in the San Felipe district, a black neighborhood that today includes parts of downtown and Montrose. At last a line had been crossed. The news made the rounds in no time.
Later came encouraging bulletins that Baltimore was not dead, only injured. That did little to assuage the mounting anger. Soldiers sent word to their girlfriends not to come out to camp or even be on the streets that night. A plan was afoot.
As Baltimore was being brought back to camp, an officer asked him to play down the situation with his excited fellow soldiers. Don't make a big deal about it, he said. Try to calm the frayed nerves.
"I understand, sir," Baltimore replied. Yet as soon as he was back in camp, Baltimore was relating his tale and vowing revenge. Increasing numbers of soldiers promised to join him, and soon they were recruiting throughout the various companies.
The white commander of the Third Battalion, Major Kneeland S. Snow, was warned by a company sergeant that trouble was brewing. Though hardly a gifted leader, he preferred to spend his time playing golf with local citizens and attending social events. Snow had the sense to realize it wouldn't take much to push his men over the edge, and to be safe he decided to cancel all passes to town.
He also pleaded with the soldiers not to take the law into their own hands, adding that Sparks had already been suspended. Just for good measure, he ordered rifles and ammunition to be collected and placed in the guarded supply tents. Some men complied. When he saw several walking away with stolen ammunition, he placed them under arrest and went to supervise collection efforts himself, only to be stopped at gunpoint.
"I couldn't get any response at all in the way of obedience," Snow testified at the first court martial. "No man paid any more attention to me that night than as though I had been a mosquito on his face. I didn't appeal to a man to help me, to stand by me, that responded to me."
With the camp on the edge of open mutiny, all the white officers and some of the black sergeants desperately tried to maintain control. Those efforts were made moot when Frank Johnson, a well known private with a booming voice, bellowed out, "Grab your guns, boys. Here comes the mob!"
A single shot echoed through the darkness. Even though it likely came from Johnson, who had concealed a rifle in his pants leg, the effect was to cause instant panic. Soldiers who had turned in their rifles rushed the supply tents, knocking aside those standing guard. Within seconds, shots were fired out of the camp toward the woods and nearby homes and buildings, into bushes hither and yon, across the camp and through the soldiers' own tents, up in the air and down at the ground.
It is unclear how long the gunfire continued. Some later said 30 minutes, though it may have been less. Residents who lived nearby at first thought it was some sort of "sham battle" training exercise. The firing went on until Snow and other officers finally managed to convince the men that there was no mob, that the only threat was to their fellow soldiers from their own shooting. One had already been seriously wounded.
A few moments of silence was erased by soldiers shouting from various directions. "Let's go to town and get to work," one exhorted. "Stick by your own race," said another. Finally came the clear words of Company I's true leader, 1st Sergeant Henry, a severe by-the-books stickler whose loyalty to the Army and its discipline had never before been in doubt.
"Fall in!" Henry said. "Fill your canteens."
Within minutes a group of about 100 soldiers left camp and started toward town. Some of the soldiers on guard duty at Camp Logan also deserted. Snow got on the phone to warn Ben Davison, former Houston police chief and still a civic leader. The current police chief apparently was asleep and could not be reached.
"Hell has broken loose in my camp," Snow excitedly said, "and I can do nothing with the men."
Then the line went dead.
Freedmen's Town, Houston Texas (1865-Current)
by Roger Wood
Throughout the middle part of the 20th century, Houston's Eldorado Ballroom reigned as one of the finest showcases in Texas for the live performance of black secular music - mostly blues, jazz, and R&B, but occasionally also pop and zydeco. This venue, owned and operated by African Americans, occupied the entire second floor of the Eldorado Building, located across from historic Emancipation Park on the southwest quadrant of the intersection of Elgin and Dowling Streets in the Third Ward, home to the city's largest black population.
From 1939, when it was built, until the early 1970's, the Eldorado was the venue of choice for upscale blues and jazz performances featuring touring stars and local talent, as well as afternoon talent shows and sock-hops. The ballroom was the centerpiece of several profitable enterprises owned by African-American businesswoman and philanthropist Anna Dupree (1891-1977), who had already achieved significant success as a beauty-shop operator before marrying Clarence Dupree in 1914. Together they established the Eldorado Ballroom in order to provide a "class" venue for black social clubs and general entertainment. Almost from the beginning, "the 'rado" (as people sometimes called it) and the large building that housed it became symbols of community pride—the Third Ward's most prestigious focal point, especially for musicians.
El Dorado Ballroom Historical Marker.
Like the more famous Savoy Ballroom in Harlem, the Eldorado Ballroom billed itself as the "Home of Happy Feet" - signifying not only its reputation for lively musical performance but also its large, and reportedly often crowded, dance floor. Among the house orchestras that worked there, providing instrumental backing for locally-produced floor shows as well as for featured touring artists, were big bands directed by distinguished Texas bandleaders and instrumentalists such as Ed Golden, Milton Larkin, I. H. "Ike" Smalley, Arnett Cobb, Pluma Davis, and Conrad Johnson. At its heyday as a venue for major touring acts from the postwar years through the early 1960s, the Eldorado regularly headlined nationally-known performers such as Ray Charles, Bill Doggett, Guitar Slim (Eddie Jones), Etta James, Jimmy Reed, Big Joe Turner, and T-Bone Walker.
Numerous Houston musicians received valuable early professional experience by playing in the Eldorado Ballroom house bands. Many of them subsequently became famous bandleaders and recording artists in their own right. Noteworthy examples include saxophonist and vocalist Eddie Vinson, saxophonist Don Wilkerson, and trumpeter Calvin Owens. Likewise, for many musically-inclined black Houstonians coming of age in the mid-twentieth century, the weekly talent shows at the Eldorado Ballroom provided an initial opportunity to perform in public before large audiences. Among those who reportedly launched their careers there were Peppermint Harris (Harrison Nelson), Johnny "Guitar" Watson, and Joe "Guitar" Hughes.
By 1970, however, the fortunes of the Eldorado, like those of the Third Ward in general, were in decline. Key factors contributing to the ballroom's eventual demise were the negative economic impact for black-owned businesses in the old wards triggered by desegregation, the lack of adequate parking space in an era when more African Americans were starting to own automobiles, and changing musical tastes (as many younger blacks abandoned the classic jazz and blues of their parents' generation for more progressive sounds).
During the last quarter of the 20th century the Eldorado Building was home to various small business enterprises and much vacant subdivided space for lease. But in December 1999, the massive structure (along with the entire seventeen-lot block on which it sits) was acquired by Third Ward–based Project Row Houses, a non-profit arts and community service organization formed to restore the facility as a special performance venue, archive, and meeting site that will preserve the legacy of the once grand Eldorado Ballroom.
On May 17, 2003, the venue opened once again to host its first major event in more than thirty years. This fundraising gala, called Howling on Dowling, raised more than $75,000 for ongoing renovations. Since that opening, the Eldorado Ballroom has hosted concert events featuring jazz, blues, zydeco, and other genres, and Project Row Houses has continued to collect oral histories, old photographs, and other research resources in the effort to compile an archive for the facility. In 2011 the Eldorado received a Texas Historical Marker.
by Andrea HSU
The Supreme Court heard oral arguments today in the affirmative action case of Fisher v. the University of Texas at Austin, as NPR's Nina Totenberg will report later today on All Things Considered.
But we want to take a moment to remember another landmark case that brought the University of Texas to the Supreme Court 62 years ago. It led to the end of segregation at the university and paved the way for Brown v. Board of Education four years later, yet these days, it's seldom spoken of, eclipsed by Brown and other events that followed. Marshall would go on to build a case around the idea of intangibles. Beyond differences in square footage of classrooms and numbers of faculty, course offerings, and books in the library, a separate facility for black students lacked opportunities to debate ideas with other students, a critical part of learning.
"The modern law school is operated so the student can understand ideas of all stratas of society, so he can go out and be of service to his community, his state and his nation," argued Marshall, a future Supreme Court justice. "You tell [Sweatt], 'You go over there by yourself. You don't have a chance to exchange ideas with anybody.' " He would take that argument all the way to the Supreme Court.
On June 5, 1950, the court ruled unanimously that under the Equal Protection Clause, Sweatt must be admitted to the university. Chief Justice Fred Vinson referenced intangibles in the opinion: "The law school, the proving ground for legal learning and practice, cannot be effective in isolation from the individuals and institutions with which the law interacts. Few students and no one who has practiced law would choose to study in an academic vacuum, removed from the interplay of ideas and the exchange of views with which the law is concerned." Sweatt enrolled at the law school that fall, but dropped out before completing his second year. His family cites the toll that his case had taken on his health as well as a failing marriage. He later earned a masters degree in social work from Atlanta University and went on to have a career with the Urban League. Sweatt died in 1982.
Heman Sweatt in line for registration at the University of Texas in 1950. Dolph Briscoe Center for American History.
History Colored Junior College (1927-1934)
On September 14, 1927, the Houston Public School Board agreed to fund the development of two junior colleges: one for whites and one for African-Americans. And so, with a loan from the Houston Public School Board of $2,800, the Colored Junior College was born in the summer of 1927 under the supervision of the Houston School District. The main provision of the authorization was that the college meet all instructional expenses from tuition fees collected from the students enrolling in the college. The initial enrollment for the first summer was 300. For the fall semester, the enrollment dropped to 88 students because many of the 300 enrolled during the summer semester were teachers who had to return to their jobs once the school year began.
The Colored Junior College was established to provide an opportunity for African-Americans to receive college training. The Junior College progressed so fast that by 1931, it became a member of the Association of Colleges and Secondary Schools and was approved by the Southern Association of Colleges.
History College for Negroes (1934-1947)
In the summer of 1934, the Houston School Board changed the junior college to a four-year college and the name to Houston College for Negroes. In 1936, 63 individuals became members of the first graduating class. The college operated this way until the summer of 1943, when it formally added a graduate program. In the spring of 1945, the HISD severed its relationship with Houston College for Negroes, and thereafter all management of the college was vested in a Separate Board of Regents.
The college continued to operate in Yates High School, but by 1946 it had grown to an enrollment of approximately 1,400 students and needed room to grow. A few years earlier, with the help of Hugh Roy Cullen, a local philanthropist, the college obtained a 53-acre piece of property in the Third Ward area of Houston. With support from two large donors, Mrs. T.M. Fairchild, in memory of her late husband, Mr. and Mrs. C.A. Dupree, and the African American community, the college raised enough money to construct its first building on the new campus. In the fall of 1946, the college moved from Jack Yates High School to its first building, the new T.M. Fairchild Building, which still operates as an active building in the university's facilities inventory.
Texas State University for Negroes (1947-1951)
In February of 1946, Heman Marion Sweatt, an African American Houston mail carrier, applied to enroll in the law school at the University of Texas. Because Texas was one of the segregated states, Sweatt was denied admission and later filed a suit against the University of Texas and the State of Texas with the support of the NAACP. In response, believing the separate but equal doctrine would carry the day, the Texas Legislature passed Senate Bill 140 on March 3, 1947, providing for the establishment of a Negro law school in Houston and the creation of a university to surround it. This bill was complemented by House Bill 788, which approved $2,000,000.00 to purchase a site near Houston to house this new college and support its operation. Texas law makers initially considered Prairie View A&M College as the location of this new law school. However, on June 14, 1947, the decision was made to use the site of Houston College for Negroes, with its new campus at the center of a large and fast growing black population. Thus, a new law school for Negroes of Texas and Texas State University for Negroes was born.
Under the separate but equal concept, the intention of Senate Bill 140 and House Bill 788 was to create a new university for Negroes in Houston that would become the equivalent of the University of Texas in Austin.
Texas Southern University (1951-Present)
On June 1, 1951, the name of this new university for Negroes was changed from Texas State University for Negroes to Texas Southern University after students petitioned the state legislature to remove the phrase "for Negroes."
When the university opened its doors in September 1947, it had 2,300 students, two schools, one division and one college - the Law School, the Pharmacy School, the Vocational Division, and the College of Arts and Sciences. Responding to the changing times, in 1973, the 63rd Legislature designated Texas Southern University as a "special purpose" institution for urban programming. As a result, four more academic units were added - the College of Education, the School of Public Affairs, the School of Communications and the Weekend College. This designation described what Texas Southern University was doing from its inception - embracing diversity.
Today, Texas Southern University offers bachelor's, master's and doctoral degree programs in the following academic colleges and schools: the College of Liberal Arts and Behavioral Sciences; the College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences; the College of Science and Technology; the College of Education; the Barbara Jordan-Mickey Leland School of Public Affairs; the School of Communication; the Thurgood Marshall School of Law; the Jesse H. Jones School of Business; the Thomas Freeman Honors College; the College of Continuing Education and the Graduate School. Other programmatic emphases are found in the Center for Excellence in Urban Education, the Center for Transportation Training and Research, the Center on the Family and a variety of special programs and projects.
Currently, Texas Southern University is staffed by approximately 1,000 faculty members and support personnel. More than 9,500 students, representing ethnically and culturally diverse backgrounds, are currently enrolled at the university.
Mack Henry Hannah, Jr., born in Brenham, Texas, moved to Port Arthur with his parents when he was 11. He was born into an enterprising family. His grandmother Lottie Brown had become the first Juneteenth Queen on June 19, 1869 and his parents were themselves pioneers in settling Port Arthur.
His father, "Daddy Mack," was a colorful character who was associated with many business ventures in the early days of the city - saloons, a barbershop, pool halls, a restaurant, a drug store, and in 1920 the Hannah Funeral Home, which still operates in Port Arthur today.
His son, Mack Jr., became one of the nation's outstanding citizens. He graduated from Lincoln High School and Bishop College, where he became the school's first All America football player.
He worked as a physical education teacher at Lincoln High School then later joined the Orange Casket Company, becoming their first black salesman. In 1937, he purchased the Joseph A. Porter Casket Company in New Orleans, Louisiana. During World War II, Hannah was employed by the nation's first synthetic rubber plant, built in Port Neches. He ran the housing and food concession, taking care of over 6,000 workers.
Mack Hannah then moved to Houston, where he became the president of the Mack H. Hannah Life Insurance Company, founded the Gulf Western Mortgage Company, and the Standard Savings and Loan Association (the first black Savings and Loan Association in Houston), and became director of the Homestead Bank.
Educational institutions also prospered under Hannah's direction. He served for over thirty-one years as a trustee of Bishop College. He held the office of Regent of Texas Southern University, and the University of Houston. Hannah had the honor of being the only person in Texas to have served as Chairman of the Board of Regents of two Texas institutions of higher learning. In 1940, President Franklin D. Roosevelt appointed Hannah as Consul to the Republic of Liberia, a post he held for over 42 years.
In 1966, he attended the Subregional Meeting on Economic cooperation in Niamey, Nigeria, as the personal representative of President Johnson. Hannah received numerous other honors and citations. Texas Southern University conferred the honorary Doctor of Humanities Degree on him in 1974. In 1968, he was awarded the honorary Doctor of Laws Degree from Bishop College. Hannah was also appointed to serve as a member of the White House Conference on Youth and Children. Humanitarian, community and land developer, banker, financier, and diplomat, Hannah left a concrete mark on Port Arthur by developing three subdivisions: Hannah Estates, Hannah Gardens, and Sunset Gardens.
He will long be remembered in Houston and Port Arthur for his service to his community and this nation.
Police taking male students from dormitories, Texas Southern University, morning of May 17, 1967
By: Ayodale Braimah
The event labeled as the Houston Riot occurred on the Texas Southern University (TSU) campus in Houston, Texas in 1967. As with many other civil disturbances during the 1960s, underlying racial resentments prior to the event finally reached a tipping point. In this instance, however, much of the anger was directed at the TSU students and came from Houston police officers and thus should be labeled a police riot.
Tensions between the Houston police and TSU students arose from the circumstances surrounding the death of 11-year-old Victor George who had drowned in a garbage-filled pond at Houston’s Holmes Road Dump on May 8, 1967. Many of these dumps were located in black majority neighborhoods because city had routinely and purposely arranged for these landfills to be in segregated parts of town.
On May 15, students attending TSU and other local universities along with environmental activists staged a sit-in in front of Holmes Road Dump’s entrance in an attempt to force the city to shut down the dump. Their protest was one of the first in the nation targeting the evolving issue that would later spark the national anti-environmental racism movement. During the sit-ins, dozens of protesters were arrested by Houston police.
TSU students returned to the dump’s entrance the following day to continue the protests which resulted in still more arrests. Later that day, support rallies were held at local churches where some protest leaders spoke about beginning a battle with police. The Houston police falsely assumed those who called for this confrontation were TSU students. In response, police officers blockaded all the roads leading to the TSU campus and shut down the school.
With thousands of students—including the vast majority who had not participated in the protests - confined to campus, tensions with the police grew over the afternoon and into the early evening. The civil unrest that occurred later that night would be labeled as the TSU Riot. By early evening some students hurled rocks and bottles at the police. Believing the attack came from Lanier Hall, a male dormitory, Houston police surrounded the building and exchanged gunfire with some of the students inside.
Houston’s mayor Louie Welch attempted to deescalate the situation by enlisting the help of one of the dump protest organizers, Rev. William Lawson, who tried to get the students to cease firing weapons from the dormitory. After this effort failed, Houston police opened fire on the dormitory, shooting nearly 5,000 rounds of ammunition into the structure. Then the police raided the dormitory, arresting 488 students, nearly all the residents of the building. Most of those arrested had nothing to do with the violence. All of them were paraded outside the building in their pajamas and underwear. A small number of those arrested were injured.
One Houston police officer, Louis Kuba, was killed during the incident. Houston police arrested TSU students Douglas Walker, Floyd Nichols, Charles Freeman, John Parker, and Trazawell Franklin and Harris County prosecutors charged them with the murder of Officer Kuba. Neither Walker or Nichols were present when Officer Kuba died. Walker had been arrested earlier in connection with the dump protests and Nichols was at his home in Northeastern Houston. Nevertheless, they were still apprehended and charged. The charges against the five students, dubbed the TSU Five, were dismissed however in 1970 due to insufficient evidence. By that point authorities concluded that Officer Kuba was killed due to a ricocheted police bullet.
In 1998, the Greater Houston Preservation alliance awarded Walter E. Strickland, owner of Distinctive Dwellings Inc., a “Good Brick Award” for the renovation of a stately mansion located at 2619 Calumet, in the Third Ward. The mansion is known as the “Groovey Grill Mansion” because it housed the Groovey Grill restaurant between 1967-1989. (It is now an events facility.) The Groovey Grill, which opened for business in another location, in 1942, was a long-standing institution in the African-American community, as is evident from the following articles on the restaurant:
Since its humble snack bar beginnings in 1942, the Third Ward’s Groovey Grill has been more than just a comfortable spot to eat home cooking, and its owners, Faurice and Jessie Prince, have been more than just successful entrepreneurs.
One longtime patron declares it an “institution, no question about it.” Before integration, faithful customers say the grill was the only nice eatery where Houston’s blacks could dine and mingle. Through the years it has remained a favorite gathering place for the community, thanks to the fried chicken and the owners’ hospitality.
“The Princes always represented something special,” said attorney Andrew Jefferson, who has been a frequent customer since his college days. A group of those longtime fans and area business owners will host a banquet honoring the Princes’ 45 years in business Sept. 17 at Texas Southern University’s Student Life Center. They’ve always worked as a team – with Jessie supervising the cooks and waitresses and ordering supplies while Faurice sits behind the register greeting customers.
The restaurant has been located at 2619 Calumet since 1967. It’s a stately-looking two-story house that’s hard to miss with towering purple columns at the entrance. Although the first floor was renovated to function as a restaurant, part of its charm is that much of the interior still looks and feels like home. The decor isn’t fancy. Walls in the foyer are covered with plaques, photos of political heroes, certificates for community service and a mention from the mayor’s office commemorating the Princes’ 43rd wedding anniversary in 1980.
The back barroom, which once was the scene of frequent cocktail parties, has shelves of black and white autographed pictures of sports greats who have dined there through the years. A few of the visitors have been former President Lyndon B. Johnson, boxing champion Muhammad Ali and baseball greats Willie Mays and Roy Campanella.
Asked to recall the names of the rich and famous who have passed through her doors, Jessie just throws her head back and says, “Oh, honey… ‘She points to a table in the corner and says, “Ray Charles sat right over there two months ago.”
Jessie will proudly tell you this venture was her idea from the start. “He (Faurice) wasn’t too interested in it, but once the money was coming in, he got real interested,” she laughed. “You really want to know how we got started?” she asked. “Across from the Forward Times, there was a dairy cup where blacks had to go to the back to get an ice cream cone.
“I said to myself one of these days I’m going to have a ice cream parlor so I won’t have to go to the back.” So she opened Princes’ Hamburger Bar on Elgin Street, then catering to students attending nearby Jack Yates High School. Faurice had a steady job at an oil refinery so he wasn’t too excited about sinking money into a burger joint, but it proved a hit.
In 1947, they opened a larger restaurant at Tierwester and Wheeler Avenue. This location was the first to be called Groovey Grill. Jessie says she is often asked how the name was chosen. Her response: “I laid awake and thought about it.”
The land for this new restaurant was acquired from a friend who had borrowed $900 from them. As payment he gave the couple the deed to the lot. In those days, Faurice says, he called the area Frog Alley because of the many unpaved streets that flooded constantly. Jessie says two years passed before her husband would visit the property.
But when construction on the newly established Texas Southern University began, the Princes realized they had a potential gold mine.Students and faculty began arriving, and Jessie said, “That’s when it really started swinging.” “Meet me at the Groovey Grill” was the slogan around the community, she says.
Dr. Jesse Gloster, a retired TSU economics professor who is organizing the tribute for the Princes, said, “You had to break through a mob to get in.” The Princes worked to improve the entire area to protect their business investment. Jessie marched to the mayor’s office one day to solicit help to pave the streets. They once sold a family car for $450 to pay for street repairs, she says.
The Princes worked to improve the entire area to protect their business investment. Jessie marched to the mayor’s office one day to solicit help to pave the streets. They once sold a family car for $450 to pay for street repairs, she says. Their favorite cause quickly became TSU and the students. The Princes never had children, but they helped more than 300 students get through school by giving them jobs, offering an occasional free meal to those down and out and contributing to scholarship funds.
Faurice spent many evenings soliciting donations for the United Negro College Fund. The two were big fans of the school’s athletic teams, often preparing dinners for them when they arrived home from road games. Jessie says she remembers a tearful fan calling them once because the football team didn’t have uniforms to travel in. The couple gave them $600. Jessie says almost every fraternity and sorority on campus has gathered in their meeting rooms.
“They were just like mom and pop,” said Daisy Hanna Proctor, a former TSU graduate student. The university’s head golf coach and a 1955 football recruit, William Glosson, said, “Their food sold me on the university. I had my first meal there. “It was super, everybody gathered there, it was like a family reunion,” he said. Glosson recalled that students would say: “Mr. Prince, can I get a steak sandwich? I’ll pay you later.” Glosson added, “He never wrote an IOU down; you just always felt you wanted to pay him back.”
City Councilman Rodney Ellis, who first met the Princes when he was a TSU sophomore in 1973, says they often fed him when he dropped by to collect money for the football tickets they sold to customers. He jokingly says they are responsible for some of the extra pounds he’s gained over the years.
“A lot of people who’ve achieved some measure of success, from Barbara Jordan to young campus leaders, were touched by them,” Ellis said. Today’s breakfast, lunch and dinner crowds are smaller. Around 3 p.m. Faurice takes a seat behind the register, puffs on a cigar and watches an afternoon movie on a small portable television set. Jessie sits at the counter eating a late lunch or goes back to the kitchen to talk with her cooks, Emma Phillips, who has been there 30 years, and Laura George, a 19-year veteran.
Waitress Lorraine Williams, who has been a favorite of customers for 38 years, also is still around. The Princes, who will only say they are “50-plus” years old, aren’t sure how much longer they will hang on to the business. Jessie says she is ready to consider any good bids. Faurice says modestly that they’ve survived this long by “just hanging on.” Jessie adds, “The people like us; they just like the Groovey Grill.”
Barbara Charline Jordan, (born February 21, 1936, Houston, Texas; died January 17, 1996, Austin, Texas). American lawyer, educator, and politician who served as U.S. congressional representative from Texas (1973–79). She was the first African American congresswoman to come from the South.
Thomas J. O'Halloran—USN&WR/Library of Congress, Washington, D.C. (LC-U9-32512-12)
Jordan was the youngest of three daughters in a close-knit family. As a high school student, she became a skilled public speaker, winning a national debate contest in 1952. She attended Texas Southern University in Houston, becoming a member of the debate team that tied Harvard University in a debate - one of her proudest college moments. Following graduation (magna cum laude in 1956), she attended Boston University Law School, where she was one of only two women - both African Americans from Houston - to graduate. She passed the Massachusetts bar exam, but moved to Tuskegee Institute (later renamed Tuskegee University) in Alabama and taught there for one year before returning to Texas and gaining admittance to the bar there.
Jordan was an effective campaigner for the Democrats during the 1960 presidential election, and this experience propelled her into politics. In 1962 and 1964, she was an unsuccessful candidate for the Texas House of Representatives, but she was elected in 1966 to the Texas Senate, the first African American member since 1883 and the first woman ever elected to that legislative body. Jordan’s success in Texas politics came from her knowledge of and adherence to the rules of the political process. She went to great lengths to fit in and sought advice on committee assignments. Her own legislative work focused on the environment, anti-discrimination clauses in state business contracts, and urban legislation, the last being a political challenge in a state dominated by rural interests. She captured the attention of Pres. Lyndon Johnson, who invited her to the White House for a preview of his 1967 civil rights message.
Jordan remained in the Texas Senate until 1972, when she was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives from Texas’s 18th district. In the House, Jordan advocated legislation to improve the lives of minorities, the poor, and the disenfranchised and sponsored bills that expanded workers’ compensation and strengthened the Voting Rights Act of 1965 to cover Mexican Americans in the Southwest.
Although she acquired a reputation as an effective legislator, Jordan did not become a national figure until 1974, when her participation in the hearings held by the House Judiciary Committee on the impeachment of Pres. Richard M. Nixon was televised nationwide. Her keynote address at the 1976 Democratic National Convention confirmed her reputation as one of the most commanding and articulate public speakers of her era.
Barbara Jordan delivering the keynote address at the 1976 Democratic National Convention, New York City. Warren K. Leffle - USN&WR/Library of Congress, Washington, D.C. (LC-U9-32937-32)
Jordan decided not to seek a fourth term and retired from Congress in 1979. In that year also she published Barbara Jordan, a Self-Portrait. She then accepted a position at the University of Texas, Austin, where she taught at the Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs until her death. Despite her absence from Washington, D.C., she remained influential in political affairs. In the 1990's she served as an adviser on ethics in government for Texas Gov. Ann Richards and also was chairman for the U.S. Commission on Immigration Reform. In 1992 she again gave the keynote address at the Democratic National Convention.
Office Representative, Texas, Democrat, Congress(es): 96th (1979–1981), 97th (1981–1983), 98th (1983–1985), 99th (1985–1987), 100th (1987–1989), 101st (1989–1991)
Inspired by an extended stay on the continent as a young legislator, Representative Leland poured his energy into focusing attention on a disastrous East African famine and raising funds for relief efforts. Leland worked tirelessly as chairman of the House Select Committee on Hunger, which he had lobbied Congress to create. Responding to critics who felt he should focus on domestic poverty first, Leland retorted, "I am as much of a citizen of this world as I am of this country. To hell with those people who are critical of what I am able to do to help save people's lives. I don't mean to sound hokey, but I grew up on the Christian ethic which says we are supposed to help the least of our brothers." This statement encapsulated Leland's career and life goals. He became a martyr for the cause of eradicating world hunger, perishing in a plane crash on a humanitarian mission to transport supplies to an Ethiopian refugee camp.
George Thomas (Mickey) Leland was born in Lubbock, Texas, on November 27, 1944, to Alice Rains. It was Leland's maternal grandfather who nicknamed him "Mickey." Shortly after Leland's birth, his parents separated. Alice Rains moved with her two sons, Mickey and Gaston, to a poor section of Houston, where she worked as a short–order cook. Rains put herself through school and became a teacher. Mickey Leland graduated from Phyllis Wheatley High School in Houston in 1963 and attended Houston's Texas Southern University. Earning his degree in pharmacy in 1970, Leland worked as an instructor of clinical pharmacy at Texas Southern before taking a job as a pharmacist. He also served with several university organizations, setting up free clinics and other aid for the Houston - area poor.
Influenced by diverse doctrines - the writings of black activists and the emphasis of his Roman Catholic faith on helping the disadvantaged - Leland was active in the civil rights movement as a student in the late 1960's, often participating in unruly protests, and describing himself as a "Marxist" and a "revolutionary." His arrest while demonstrating against police brutality in Houston proved to be a pivotal moment in his life, persuading Leland to work within the political system rather than against it. Leland was first elected to the Texas state house of representatives in 1972 and served his polyglot Houston neighborhood from 1973 to 1979. He quickly earned a reputation as a militant, firebrand politician in the state legislature, appearing on the first day in a tie–dyed dashiki shirt, an Afro haircut, and platform shoes. While in the state legislature, Leland made his first trip to Africa. The young politician developed a deep affection for the continent, staying in Tanzania for three months rather than his scheduled three weeks. "Nobody knew where I was," Leland recalled, "My mother thought I was dead, but the fact is that I got totally absorbed in Africa." Leland stepped onto the national political scene by serving as a delegate to the Democratic National Convention in 1972. He also served as a delegate to the Texas state constitutional convention in 1974, where he helped rewrite Texas's 97–year–old Jim Crow–Era constitution, focusing on reforming the judicial and executive branches of the state government.
In 1978, three-term Houston Representative Barbara Jordan announced her retirement from Congress. The first Member to serve the newly created district, Jordan represented central city neighborhoods where the population was almost three–quarters minority, dominated by lower– and middle–class African and Mexican Americans. Leland entered the May 6 Democratic primary, garnering 48 percent of the vote against seven other candidates. Falling short of the necessary 50 percent to win the nomination, Leland faced the primary runner-up, African-American candidate Anthony Hall, in a runoff primary on June 3. Hall had won 24 percent of the May 6 votes. Hall and Leland had remarkably parallel backgrounds: they were both age 33, grew up in similar Houston neighborhoods, and served simultaneously in the state legislature. Though Jordan refused to endorse any one candidate, Leland's ability to garner support from both the district's black and Hispanic constituents sealed his victory over Hall, with 57 percent of the vote. Without official opposition in the general election, Leland won 97 percent of the vote for the 96th Congress (1979–1981). He was re-elected five times, typically winning majorities of 90 percent or more.
Upon his arrival in Washington, Leland won a seat on the powerful Interstate and Foreign Commerce Committee (later Energy and Commerce) - often sought after by Members because of its regulatory powers across a broad swath of industry. He was also assigned to the Post Office and Civil Service Committee, where he chaired the Subcommittee on Postal Operations and Services. In addition, Leland served on the Committee on the District of Columbia and became an active member of the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC). Leland later chaired the CBC in the 99th Congress (1985–1987). While attending an annual CBC weekend party in 1982, Leland met 24-year-old Georgetown University Law student Alison Walton. The two married in 1983, and Alison Leland worked as an investment banker. In 1986, the couple celebrated the birth of their first son, Jarrett.
Leland proved an active advocate for all minorities, focusing particularly on the needs of his black and Hispanic constituents. To best serve the large Mexican–American population in his district, Leland learned Spanish. He once shocked his colleagues by arguing in Spanish on the House Floor in favor of maintaining the bilingual clauses in the Voting Rights Act. His bilingualism allowed him to develop a controversial working relationship with Cuban leader Fidel Castro. Leland disagreed emphatically with Castro's philosophy, but admired his political influence among poorer nations. Leland continued to look abroad, focusing on international cooperation and exchange. One of his first acts in Congress was to fund a six-week trip to Israel to allow underprivileged black teenagers from the Houston area to learn about Jewish culture and to create a cross–cultural dialogue between the youths in the two countries. Leland also led the demand for increased hiring quotas for women and minorities at telecommunications companies, taking on television executives and advocating more minority hires for on and off screen positions. In 1984 Leland supported the presidential candidacy of his longtime friend Vice President Walter Mondale over that of black civil rights activist Jesse Jackson, angering several of his African–American colleagues. However, Leland returned as Jackson's lead fundraiser for the 1988 presidential campaign.
Leland's greatest passion developed from his three–month stay in East Africa. He spent most of his congressional career attempting to redirect American foreign policy away from the military imperatives of the Cold War confrontation between superpowers toward examining the inequalities between rich and poor nations. When famine struck East Africa in the mid-1980s, Leland was an outspoken advocate for alleviating hunger on the continent. Throughout his first two terms, he lobbied for the creation of a congressional committee to focus on world poverty and hunger. While sympathetic to his cause, many Members provided less support than Leland requested, as they believed it would only add to the institution's mounting bureaucracy. While critics claimed Leland should focus on domestic hunger before turning his attention abroad, he also involved himself in domestic poverty and hunger issues, proposing tax exemptions for American companies that donated to food banks. In 1987, he spent a night on a Washington, DC, steam grate to emphasize the plight of the homeless. Leland regularly raised aid for Houston–area food banks, which provided him with greater leverage for creating a committee on hunger. Leland often invoked two images from his frequent trips to Ethiopian refugee camps: a throng of starving people rubbing their stomachs and pleading for food and an Ethiopian girl who died in his arms as he turned to ask her caretakers about her condition. "Every day I see her face," Leland said.
After gathering 258 cosponsors and the support of 60 national organizations, Leland realized his goal in 1984 of creating a congressional committee to examine global hunger and poverty. Leland's Hunger Committee resolution passed on February 22 by a vote of 309 to 78. He was appointed the first chairman of the Temporary Select Committee on Hunger in the 98th Congress (1983–1985). Modeled after a similar panel (the Committee on Children, Youth and Families), the Hunger Committee studied the effects of domestic and international hunger and poverty. In 1984, partially aided by publicity from American and British musicians, Leland's committee pushed through Congress an aid package for famine relief of nearly $800 million. Though successful in raising awareness about hunger, Leland complained of his congressional colleagues' lack of interest.
Leland traveled frequently to Africa, often guiding Members and their staffs to refugee camps so they could witness firsthand how aid money was being used in Africa. On August 7, 1989, he took advantage of the congressional summer recess to check on the progress of a refugee camp near the Sudanese–Ethiopian border. Shortly after his plane took off from Addis Ababa, it crashed over a mountainous region in Ethiopia while navigating a storm. All 15 people aboard were killed, including Leland and three congressional aides. Out of mutual respect for Leland, the United States and Ethiopia temporarily repaired their strained diplomatic relations, and Ethiopian military leader Mengistu Haile Mariam allowed American military spy planes to search for Leland's downed aircraft. The U.S. military discovered the wreckage after seven days of searching, and a congressional delegation accompanied Leland's remains to Texas for burial.
Representative Leland was widely eulogized. Visitors poured into his Capitol Hill office to offer their condolences. Staff in the neighboring office occupied by Representative George Crockett of Michigan helped field the overwhelming number of phone calls. Communities touched by Leland were quick to honor him: The CBC renamed its humanitarian award for him in 1989, Houston International Airport named its largest terminal for him, and the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People sponsored a project to plant trees in Africa in his name. The tragedy of Leland's death was compounded when Alison Leland gave birth in January 1990 to premature twin sons, Cameron George and Austin Mickey, five months after her husband's death. Democratic leaders in the House led a fundraiser to collect donations for Leland's three children. Alison Leland declined an offer to run for her husband's vacant House seat. With her support, Houston–area legislator Craig Washington succeeded Leland in the December 9 special election. Without Leland's forceful support and leadership, the Select Committee on Hunger was eventually eliminated in the 103rd Congress (1993–1995).
HOW OUR STORY BEGAN
Influenced by the African American Theatre Movement of the 1960's and 70's, George Hawkins founded a black theatre company in 1976 in Houston, Texas. He observed that professional roles were few and far between for black actors, and his frustration led him to create his own company, then known as The Black Ensemble Company. Hawkins’ goal was to create a theatre that would provide diverse roles for black artists.
Determined to move his theatre in a direction different from other mainstream theatres, Hawkins focused on themes about black life. He located a building to use as a storefront theatre on 1010 Tuam Street, and renamed the company The Ensemble Theatre.
move to main street
In 1985, the theatre moved to 3535 Main Street and grew each year thereafter. Hawkins continued his goal to establish a ‘place and space’ where artists and the larger community could receive technical training and have expanded employment opportunities while providing a theatrical education for Houstonians and residents in surrounding counties. In the years that followed, The Ensemble played the role of social liaison between the Houston community and the black theatre experience.
George Hawkins passed away in 1990, but his dream, drive, and passion continue under superb leadership and community support. The Ensemble Theatre is one of a few professional theaters in the region dedicated to the production of works portraying the African American experience. It is the oldest and largest professional African American theatre in the Southwest and it holds the distinction of being one of the nation’s largest African American theatres owning and operating its facility and producing in-house. Board President Emeritus Audrey Lawson led the capital campaign for The Ensemble’s $4.5 million building renovations that concluded in 1997.
The programs and operations of The Ensemble Theatre benefit a multicultural audience that is diverse in age, income, ethnicity, and culture. The Ensemble Theatre produces a Mainstage Season of contemporary and classical works devoted to the portrayal of the African American experience by local and national playwrights and artists.
The Ensemble Theatre’s Performing Arts Education program provides educational workshops, artist-in residence experiences, and live performances for students both off-site and at the theatre. Also, the Young Performers Program offers intensive summer training for youth ages 6 to 17 encompassing instruction in all disciplines of the theatre arts. Through its varied programs, The Ensemble Theatre benefits an audience and artistic constituency of approximately 65,000 people annually.
The Ensemble Theatre has surpassed the vision of its founder and continues to expand and create innovative programs to bring African American theatre to myriad of audiences, and is truly one of Houston’s finest historical cultural institutions.
WOMENSTENNIS Lori McNeil of Houston, TX, returns a shot against Linda Wild during first round action at the Bank of the West Classic at Stanford. CHRONICLE PHOTO BY SUSIE MING HWA CHU.
Long after Althea Gibson crashed tennis' lily-white party and before Venus and Serena Williams became the sport's most dominant siblings of any color or gender, two young African-American women from a working-class neighborhood southeast of the University of Houston had quietly gone about the business of upsetting apple carts themselves.
Despite Gibson's outlier trailblazing in the late 1950's, when she won both Wimbledon and the U.S. Nationals, her championships had no lasting impact. Tennis remained a country-club sport in the U.S. well into the 1970's. But then one afternoon, circa 1974, a teaching pro at the MacGregor Park Tennis Center (now Homer Ford) named John Wilkerson cajoled a hyper-shy 10-year-old girl to stop spectating and start participating.
As soon as Zina Garrison started cracking forehands, Wilkerson knew he might be seeing something special. A friend of Garrison's, Lori McNeil, showed similar potential. A few years later, Wilkerson phoned the tennis writer at the Houston Post and invited him to visit the courts to take a look, saying, "I promise I've got a future Wimbledon champion out here."
Neither Garrison, who toured professionally from 1982 through 1997, nor McNeil (1983-2002) would conquer Centre Court, but the former did play for the Wimbledon championship in 1990 and the latter was a Wimbledon semifinalist in 1994. Both also reached the semifinals at the U.S. Open, won major mixed-doubles crowns and, together, collected 24 titles and 1,000 match victories on the women's tour. A gold medalist in doubles in the 1988 Olympics, Garrison got as high as No. 4 in the world rankings a year later. McNeil achieved her career high of No. 9 on July 4, 1988.
They also inspired Venus and Serena Williams to believe that they, too, could make a living from tennis, even if they hailed from Compton, Calif. The sisters were watching on television when Garrison took the court against Martina Navratilova on Wimbledon's final Saturday 26 years ago, and, while it made them sad to see her lose 6-4, 6-1, it didn't deter them. "Probably the first time I met Serena," Garrison said recently, "she told me about how they went right out afterwards and practiced against each other."
It was Garrison's older brother, Rodney, who first piqued her interest in tennis, but she already had shown plenty of athletic prowess, winning at track and playing fast-pitch softball with 14- and 15-year-olds. She had natural hand-eye coordination, and when she first started entering tournaments at 12, she was always the strongest, most athletic girl on the court. Within two years, she had won the girls 18s national title, earning an audience with the great Gibson herself, who invited Garrison to a 10-day clinic in which she got to play with a number of pros, including Leslie Allen and Kim Sands, African-African women who had established themselves on the WTA Tour. She held her own, too. Wimbledon and U.S. Open junior championships followed, after which she got a chance to rally with U.S. Open champion Tracy Austin. After whacking balls for an hour or so, Austin pronounced her ready to hit the circuit.
"Zina's a fighter," Wilkerson said at the time. "She's got a lot of desire. When you consider how far she has come already in a short time, it's hard to say how far she can go." To Paris, for starters. Instead of attending her Ross Sterling High School graduation in May 1982, Garrison debuted in the main draw of the French Open. With Wilkerson as her coach, she advanced to the quarterfinals, losing to Navratilova. A year later, she made the quarters of the Australian Open and finished the season 10th in the world rankings. She won her first Tour title in 1984 and advanced to the Wimbledon semis in 1985, losing to Navratilova in a far tighter match than their final five years down the road would be. And she got the best of Navratilova at the 1988 U.S. Open, reaching the first of back-to-back semifinals at Flushing Meadow by surviving Navratilova's comeback from a one-set down, love-5 deficit. Garrison eventually prevailed 6-4, 6-7, 7-5.
However, facing Gabriela Sabatini in the semifinals, she failed to seize the many opportunities the young Argentine gave her and dropped a match she knows she should have won. The following September, Navratilova regained the upper hand, depriving Garrison of a first major final.
Garrison would give herself a final chance at a major, finally making it through to the last day of a Slam the following summer at the All England Club, impressively taking out Monica Seles and Steffi Graf in the quarters and the semis before falling to Navratilova in the final.
Although Garrison played for seven more years, she never again advanced beyond the quarterfinals in a major. It would instead be McNeil who delivered a last hurrah on behalf of the Houston "sisters" when she scored a stunning - and historically unprecedented - upset of the defending champion, Graf, in the first round at Wimbledon in 1994, then roared into the semifinals, dropping just a single set.
At 30, McNeil was playing the best tennis of her life and Conchita Martinez, a journey-woman pro known for her clay-court skill, was all that stood between McNeil and a Wimbledon final of her own. It could have been McNeil's moment to seize, giving her a chance to avenge her Houston "sister's" loss to Navratilova four years earlier. Instead, the Spaniard prevailed in a grueling 10-8 third set, then won her only major championship at Navratilova's expense.
But the story had a happy ending for all.
Today, the Zina Garrison Tennis Academy in southwest Houston, with McNeil as the director, is thriving (Garrison commutes from her home in Virginia). Wilkerson continues to coach up a storm despite having undergone a hip replacement. More than 25,000 kids have passed through the program, gaining life skills and learning tennis from people who know plenty about both.
"It's kind of hard not to grow up as a humanitarian in Houston because people are there for you, people like John," Garrison said during the Academy's 20-year anniversary celebration in 2013, attended by sports luminaries such as Billie Jean King, Jackie Joyner-Kersee and Carl Lewis. "I was fortunate enough to share my gift for tennis and bring it back to Houston, to go full circle with what John started with me a long time ago."
1937-Current, by Bunthay Cheam
Lee Patrick Brown, known as “The Father of Community Policing,” became the first African American Mayor of Houston, Texas in 1997.
Brown was born to sharecropper parents Andrew and Zelma Brown in the town of Wewoka, Oklahoma in 1937. He received a B.A. in criminology from Fresno State University in California in 1960 and four years later earned an M.A. from San Jose State University in the same field. In 1970, he received a Ph.D. in criminology from the University of California, Berkeley. Brown is a member of Sigma Pi Phi fraternity.
Brown began working as a patrol officer for the San Jose Police Department during his college years. Then in 1968, he took a teaching post at Portland State University in Oregon. In 1972, Brown was appointed associate director of the Institute for Urban Affairs and Research at Howard University in Washington, D.C., a job he held until 1975. Brown returned to Oregon and became a deputy sheriff for Multnomah County (Portland), Oregon for two years. By 1976 he was named the Director of the Multnomah County Department of Justice.
In 1978 Brown became the first African American commissioner of police for Atlanta, Georgia. Two years into his tenure, he became nationally known as the leading law enforcement official involved in the infamous Atlanta Child Murders. Twenty-four people went missing and were later found murdered. Racial tensions rose when many observers assumed the serial killer was white. Brown worked to calm racial tensions as the Atlanta police eventually arrested an African American man, Wayne B. Williams, who was tried and convicted for the murder of two of the victims.
In 1982, Brown became the first African American chief of police for the city of Houston, Texas. He held that position until 1990 when New York Mayor David Dinkins invited him to run the police force in his city. Brown, the first African American Police Commissioner for the City of New York, led the largest police department in the nation.
Three years later President Bill Clinton appointed Brown Director of the White House Office of Drug Control Policy. He resigned the position in 1995 and returned to Houston to teach at Rice University. Two years later on December 6, 1997, Lee P. Brown was elected the first African American mayor of Houston. He served three two-year terms until stepping down in 2004.
Unlike many of his peers in law enforcement Brown urged the adoption of crime prevention techniques and community investment in education to impede the growth of crime. He particularly urged urban public schools to adopt programs with pre-teens which urged the prevention of drug use. He called on police departments to deploy officers to foot patrols and encouraged the visible police presence in high crime areas and positive public interactions with the community to build support for legitimate policing efforts. These methods came to collectively be called “community policing.”
Beyoncé attends TIDAL X 1015 in New York City. Photo: Theo WargoGetty Images for TIDAL.
Who Is Beyoncé Knowles?
Born in Houston, Texas, Beyoncé Knowles first captured the public's eye as lead vocalist of the R&B group Destiny's Child. She later established a solo career with her debut album Dangerously in Love, becoming one of music's top-selling artists with sold-out tours and a slew of awards. Knowles has also starred in several films, including Dream Girls. She married hip-hop recording artist Jay-Z in 2008. In late 2013, she surprised audiences by releasing her fifth studio album, self-titled Beyoncé, and has twice performed at the Super Bowl. She released her sixth studio album, Lemonade, after the airing of an HBO special in April 2016, and two years later she dropped a joint album with Jay-Z, Everything Is Love, while the two were on tour.
Singer and actress Beyoncé Giselle Knowles was born on September 4, 1981, in Houston, Texas. She started singing at an early age, competing in local talent shows and winning many of these events by impressing audiences with her singing and dancing abilities. Teaming up with her cousin, Kelly Rowland, and two classmates, Beyoncé formed an all-female singing group. Her father, Matthew Knowles, served as the band's manager. The group went through some name and line-up changes before landing a record deal in 1997 with Columbia Records. Destiny's Child soon became one of the most popular R&B acts, with the release of their first, self-titled album. Gaining momentum, the group scored its first No. 1 single on the pop charts with "Bills, Bills, Bills," off their second album. The recording also featured another smash hit, "Say My Name." While enjoying her group's success, Beyoncé began exploring other projects. She made her acting debut in 2001 with a starring role in MTV's Carmen: A Hip Hopera. She then co-starred with Mike Myers in the Austin Powers spy parody Goldmember the following year.
On the musical front, Beyoncé took center stage as a solo artist, releasing her first album, Dangerously in Love, in 2003. The recording became a huge success for her both commercially and critically. It sold millions of copies and won five Grammy Awards. On the album, Beyoncé worked with a number of different artists, including Missy Elliott, Sean Paul and Jay-Z. She was rumored to be dating Jay-Z around this time, but the couple did not publicly acknowledge their relationship. Destiny's Child released their last studio album, Destiny Fulfilled, in 2004, and officially broke up the following year. On her own, Beyoncé continued to enjoy great success. Her second studio album, 2006's B'Day featured such hits as "Irreplaceable" and "Deja Vu." On the big screen, she starred opposite Jennifer Hudson, Jaime Foxx and Eddie Murphy in Dreamgirls. The film was adapted from the hit Broadway musical of the same name.
Beyoncé and Jay-Z
In 2008, Beyoncé married rapper and music mogul Jay-Z in a small, private ceremony in New York City. Among the guests sighted at the wedding were Beyoncé's mother, Tina Knowles; her father and manager, Matthew; her sister, Solange; Destiny's Child members Kelly Rowland and Michelle Williams; and friend Gwyneth Paltrow. The newlywed continued to work as hard as ever, promoting her latest effort, I am ... Sasha Fierce (2008). Beyoncé scored two big hits off the album - "Single Ladies (Put a Ring on It)" and "If I Were a Boy." She also returned to the big screen that year, starring as R&B legend Etta James in Cadillac Records. The following January, Beyoncé sang James' trademark song, "At Last," for President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama at his inaugural ball.
In addition to acting and performing, Beyoncé ran a clothing line called House of Dereon with her mother. She also launched her own fragrance, Heat, in 2010. Throughout her career, Beyoncé has served as a spokesperson and model for several other brands, including L'Oreal and Tommy Hilfiger. Beyoncé found herself under fire after performing a private concert for Libyan leader Muammar al-Qaddafi on New Year's Eve in 2010. She later donated her fee from the event to help victims of the Haitian earthquake. According to some reports, Beyoncé said that her father had been responsible for arranging the Libyan concert. She decided to drop her father as her manager in March 2011. Later that year, Beyoncé reached the top of the album charts with her latest solo release, 4.
In January 2013, Beyoncé generated some negative headlines for her performance at President Obama's second inauguration in Washington, D.C. She was criticized for reportedly pre-recording a version of "The Star-Spangled Banner" and lip-syncing to her own track during the outdoor ceremony. Despite wide media coverage, in the days following the incident, Beyoncé did not publicly address the controversy. Not long after, prior to her appearance at Super Bowl XLVII, Beyoncé performed the song live at a press conference. She explained to reporters that she had used a "backing track" at the inauguration, adding that she would "absolutely be singing live" at the NFL's biggest event of the year, according to The Huffington Post. Indeed, Beyoncé more than redeemed herself in the public eye at the Super Bowl on February 3, 2013. During the event's halftime show, she took the stage and wowed the crowd, joined by her former Destiny's Child bandmates Rowland and Williams for parts of her performance. Beyoncé also announced that her next major tour would start in the spring of 2013.
Awards, Accolades and Surprise Album
At the 2010 Grammy Awards, Beyoncé walked away with six honors—the most wins in a single night by a female artist. Her record was matched two years later by pop/soul artist Adele. In 2010, she also tied the record for most No. 1 hits on Billboard’s Pop Songs chart, which is based on radio airplay. In 2011, she made the Forbes Top 10 list of entertainment's highest-earning women. By 2013, Beyoncé had won 16 Grammys. Beyoncé broke records once again on December 13, 2013, with her fifth studio album, self-titled Beyoncé. The album surprised fans and critics alike, as no promotion for the album had been announced prior to its release. The record, which Beyoncé called a "visual album," was released exclusively on iTunes, with physical discs available for purchase after December 18. The record-breaking album sold more than 800,000 copies throughout the weekend it was released alone. The collection—which was the fastest-selling album ever distributed by iTunes—also marked Beyoncé's fifth studio album to debut at No. 1, making her the first woman to reach No. 1 on the Billboard 200 with her first five albums. She released the Platinum Edition of the album in 2014, and the following year won three additional Grammys, including a Best R&B Performance award for "Drunk in Love."
Second Super Bowl and 'Lemonade'
In February 2016, Beyoncé returned to the Super Bowl stage, once again earning raves for her performance. This time around she appeared with Bruno Mars and Chris Martin of the band Coldplay, highlighting her new single "Formation" and subsequently announcing a world tour. The tune, its video and accompanying halftime show also garnered a wave of attention for politicized lyrics and imagery touching on everything from black power to Hurricane Katrina.
Just two months later, HBO aired an hour-long Beyoncé conceptual film, Lemonade, which presented tracks from the album of the same name released immediately afterward. The cable special showcased the singer reeling from the romantic and sexual betrayal of her partner while acknowledging the strength found in communities of African-American women. Tennis star Serena Williams and young actress Quvenzhané Wallis also made appearances in the New Orleans-based project, which was helmed by a variety of directors and featured poetry from Warsan Shire. Lemonade the album was only initially available via Tidal, the online streaming service backed by Beyoncé's spouse, Jay-Z, and then eventually became available on iTunes and Amazon with its accompanying film. Musical contributors to the project, which quickly garnered acclaim, included Jack White, The Weeknd, James Blake and Kendrick Lamar. Lemonade debuted at No. 1, making Beyoncé the only artist in history to have all of her first six studio albums reach the top of Billboard's album charts.
In February 2017, a pregnant Beyoncé delivered a surprise performance at the Grammys, singing songs from Lemonade amid a swirling spectacle of lights, holograms and backup dancers. Although she lost the coveted Album of the Year Grammy to Adele, she did take home two awards, for Best Urban Contemporary Album and Best Music Video. Known as "Queen Bey," the famed singer readied to take on the role of a different queen with the November 2017 announcement that she was headlining a live-action remake of Disney's The Lion King.
Shortly afterward, it was revealed that Queen Bey also reigned as the highest-earning female musician of the year. According to Forbes, Beyoncé snagged $105 million in pretax income June 2016 through June 2017, a number that easily outpaced the earnings of fellow divas Adele ($69 million) and Taylor Swift ($44 million). Forbes attributed the windfall to the success of Lemonade and the singer's Formation World Tour, which grossed approximately $250 million.
Coachella, OTR II and 'Everything Is Love'
In March 2018, reports surfaced that Beyoncé was working on new music and preparing to hit the road with Jay-Z. Following a false alarm in which a tour announcement appeared and quickly disappeared from her Facebook page, the power couple officially announced that their On the Run II (or OTR II) Tour would kick off in Cardiff, Wales, on June 6. One year after she canceled a planned appearance at Coachella because of her pregnancy, Beyoncé took the stage for an eagerly anticipated performance at the April 2018 music festival. The first black woman to headline the event, Beyoncé wowed attendees and critics alike with her top-shelf singing and choreography, delivering favorites like "Crazy In Love" and a rendition of the civil rights anthem "Lift Every Voice and Sing." She was also joined during the two-hour set by hubby Jay-Z, sister Solange and her old Destiny's Child cohorts, Rowland and Williams. One week later, Beyoncé delivered another highly acclaimed show at the festival. While the 27-song set and guest list remained nearly identical, the headliner shook things up with her costume changes, coming across as looser and more "off-the-cuff," per Rolling Stone.
In June, Beyoncé and Jay-Z embarked on the European leg of their 48-date tour. While they lived up to expectations with their theatrics and swagger, the couple also surprised fans with the release of their joint album, Everything Is Love, following a London show on June 16. Initially available for streaming only on the Jay-Z owned Tidal, the nine-track album was accompanied by a video for the track "Apes**t," which featured the couple and their dancers gallivanting around some of the world's most famous artworks at the Louvre in Paris. Later in the tour, during a performance in Atlanta, Beyoncé and Jay-Z faced a potentially dangerous moment when an audience member climbed on stage and attempted to chase the stars backstage, before the backup dancers banded together to stop the intruder. Around that time, Beyoncé earned her fourth cover spread and story for Vogue. The production made headlines for the singer's control over the photo shoot, for which she wore minimal makeup and showed off her natural hair, as well as her unfiltered interview in which she embraced her "FUPA" — the leftover weight gain in the abdominal area from her pregnancy.
'Homecoming' and 'The Lion King'
On April 17, 2019, Beyoncé released a Netflix documentary about her Coachella performance, 'Homecoming,' and a surprise companion album which included 40 live tracks. July brought the premiere of The Lion King, which featured Beyoncé as Nala, the childhood friend turned love interest of the titular character, played by Donald Glover. The singer also curated and produced a companion album for the production, titled The Lion King: The Gift, and released the single "Spirit" around the time of the film's release.
Following years of pregnancy rumors, Beyoncé and Jay-Z went public with the news of their impending new arrival in 2011, the mom-to-be showing off her growing baby bump at the MTV Video Music Awards that August. Beyoncé and Jay-Z welcomed a baby daughter, Blue Ivy Carter, on January 7, 2012. The couple spared no expense to maintain their privacy during this special time, renting out a floor of New York's Lenox Hill Hospital. In February 2017, Beyoncé announced on Instagram that she and Jay-Z were expecting twins. Later, the iconic shot was revealed to be the year's most-liked Instagram post, with 11.1 million fans offering their approval.
They welcomed twins, a boy and a girl, in June 2017. Although the couple didn't immediately confirm the twins' birth or their names, People magazine reported that they had filed trademark documents at the United States Patent and Trademark Office for the names Sir and Rumi. In the early morning hours of July 14, Beyoncé made it official, posting a photo in which she's holding her one-month old twins.
Artist Biography by Heather Phares
Combining her roots in Houston rap, gospel soul, and classical flute as confidently as she addresses issues of race, sexuality, and body positivity, singer/rapper Lizzo's music abounds with humor and charisma. Her 2013 debut, Lizzobangers, reflected her years in Minneapolis' hip-hop and indie music scenes (Doomtree's Lazerbeak was one of its producers), and as time went on, her style became more wide-ranging and melodic. On 2015's self-released Big Grrrl Small World, she added more R&B and gospel to her sound, a trend that continued on her brash major-label debut and breakthrough album, 2019's Cuz I Love You.
Born Melissa Jefferson, Lizzo lived in Detroit until she was nine, when she and her family moved to Houston. While growing up, she listened to gospel at home, took flute lessons, and played in her school's marching band. She began rapping when she was 14, forming the group Cornrow Clique with her friends. When high school was over, she studied classical flute performance at the University of Houston, but the loss of her father when she was 20 devastated her. Looking for a fresh start, Lizzo moved to Minneapolis in 2011 and soon became a part of the city's thriving music scene. She performed with groups including Lizzo & the Larva Ink and the Chalice, whose debut album, We Are the Chalice, appeared in 2012. During this time, she also worked on her own music and collaborated with Gayngs' Ryan Olson and Doomtree's Lazerbeak on her September 2013 debut album, Lizzobangers. The album's gritty sound earned Lizzo local and national acclaim, and she toured the U.S. and U.K. with Har Mar Superstar after its release.
The following year, Lizzo worked with Prince on his album Plectrumelectrum and made guest appearances on tracks by Clean Bandit (New Eyes), Bastille (Torn Apart), and Sean Anonymous and DJ Name (Cold Shoulder). To make her second album, Lizzo recorded at the studio of Bon Iver's Justin Vernon, working once again with Lazerbeak as well as producers Sam Spiegel and Stefon "Bionik" Taylor. The results were December 2015's Big Grrrl Small World, a more eclectic set of songs that borrowed from classic and contemporary hip-hop and R&B. Arriving on Lizzo's own BGSW label, the album's widespread praise led to a deal with Atlantic Records and a slot opening for Sleater-Kinney on their reunion tour.
For her first major-label release, Lizzo worked with producer Ricky Reed, who encouraged her to use more of her gospel vocal training on the songs they were writing together. The Coconut Oil EP, which featured the singles Worship and Good as Hell, appeared in October 2016 on Reed's Nice Life imprint and reached number 22 on Billboard's Top R&B Albums chart. Following tours with Haim and Florence + the Machine, and a stint hosting the MTV program Wonderland, Lizzo issued the 2017 single "Truth Hurts." \
She returned in April 2019 with her third full-length, Cuz I Love You, which featured production by Reed, X Ambassadors, and Warren "Oak" Felder. The single "Juice" reached number 23 on the Billboard Hot R&B Songs chart, while "Tempo," a collaboration with Missy Elliott, hit number 21 on the U.S. Digital Song Sales chart. A month after its arrival, Cuz I Love You peaked at number six on the Billboard 200 Albums chart. The album's success rubbed off on some of Lizzo's previous releases: In August 2019, Coconut Oil appeared on the Billboard 200, and Truth Hurts reached number one on the Billboard Hot 100. She received a bevy of Grammy nominations later in the year: Record and Song of the Year, as well as Best Pop Solo Performance, for Truth Hurts; Album of the Year and Best Urban Contemporary Album for Cuz I Love You (Deluxe); Best R&B Performance for Exactly How I Feel; Best Traditional R&B Performance for Jerome; and Best New Artist.