Freedmen's Towns and Enslaved/ADOS influenced settlements

Citi Trends

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Even if a town, particularly your hometown, isn't a Freedmen town/a majority black or a heavily ADOS influenced city(at the moment), you should take the time out to research it's beginnings and settlers.

Many of these cities, especially smaller southern cities, were founded with the aid of "free" blacks and the enslaved. There were small battles and conflicts where our ancestors were some of the first people to fight and die for this country and its settlements.

Help preserve the names of those who made this all possible while being under the worst conditions. Learn about yours or your people's small towns. This is why the declaration of "descendants of SLAVES" is important and nothing to be ashamed of.

Alot of these towns are dying out and being forgotten along with the named of the men and women who helped found them.

One by one, Missouri’s black towns disappear

“People don’t really think about African-Americans in the country,” said Todd Lawrence, a descendant of Pennytown residents. “They don’t think about African-Americans as farmers. They don’t think about African-Americans raising animals. And that’s certainly what [those communities] were. Those were places where black people lived in rural settings and thrived. We’re losing that sense, certainly in the Midwest, that there is this culture of rural blackness.”

Freed slaves founded Pennytown in 1871, and sharecroppers in the 1920s settled Pinhook. Kinloch is the oldest incorporated African-American community in Missouri.

“These are places where black people came to escape Jim Crow,” Lawrence said. “Those towns became a kind of paradise for black people, because it allowed them to create a space free from external oppression, to a certain extent.

“We can’t let the knowledge of these places pass into nothing.”


https://www.washingtonpost.com/loca...ory.html?noredirect=on&utm_term=.7fefa9f3dab9

The old people used to say that Sugarland, Md., one of the hundreds of all-black towns and communities established by freed slaves after the Civil War, got its name because its founders believed that “the women here were as sweet as sugar.”

Gwendora Reese, 73, and her cousins Nettie Johnson La’Master, 74, and Suzanne Johnson, 65 — who are direct descendants of the town’s founders — are telling the story of Sugarland. Reese and La’Master grew up here, in wood-frame houses built by their fathers, direct descendants of freed slaves who founded this community about an hour’s drive north of Washington.

They remember their mothers canning peaches and their siblings skipping along dirt roads, playing tag among fruit orchards. They remember sitting on the hard benches in the church built by former slaves. And visiting elders who spoke with pride about a community founded and run by blacks. Sugarland had its own general store and postmaster.

Sugarland was founded on Oct. 6, 1871, when three freedmen — William Taylor, Patrick Hebron Jr. and John H. Diggs — “purchased land for a church from George W. Dawson, a white former slave owner, for the sum of $25,” Reese says. The founders made a small down payment and continued to pay until the debt was settled. The deed dictated that the land be used for a church, a school and “as a burial site for people of African descent.”

Today, Sugarland is mostly horse country with million-dollar homes that sit on rolling hills. Many of the houses that former slaves built have been torn down. The forest has overtaken lots where freedmen once lived. The winding dirt roads that separated this black community from a white world are now paved.


A list of Freedmen's town List of Freedmen's towns - Wikipedia
But the history is more vast and earlier than that. Chances are your hometown was helped into existence prosperity by enslaved or former enslaved.


Looking up history for my own birthplace(Columbus, MS) and the area surrounding it, I discovered alot I didn't know. Though I was already obviously aware of it being a majority black city with obvious black influence and culture, what I did not know was that the first major construction project started in my city was by a former slave named Horace King.

Black History and the settlement of Columbus

"The influence of blacks in the Tombigbee Valley began with the earliest European exploration. When the Hernando de Soto expedition passed through this area in 1540-1541, seven or eight free Blacks served with him. The French military forces operating along the Tombigbee out of Mobile in 1736 included a company of black soldiers. They were under the command of Simon, a free black French officer. During the American Revolution, free Blacks served in American and Spanish forces fighting the British in the Mobile area. The first man wounded in the 1780 Spanish-American assault on the English Fort Charlotte in Mobile was a free black man. And Lorenzo Montero, another free black, commanded a cannon in a Spanish battery during the assault against the British. Unfortunately the names of many of the blacks who played an important role in our earliest history have been lost."

In the history of Columbus, free blacks had an early impact. In 1822, there was a lumber dealer in Columbus by the name of James Scott who was providing materials for the construction of houses in the new town. County records indicate that there were no whites in his household, thereby implying that he was black. By 1843, Isaac and Thomas Williams were living in Columbus with their families. Both were black. Isaac was a laborer and probably a contractor; Thomas was a blacksmith.

The first major construction project in Columbus was the building of a bridge across the Tombigbee River. The bridge was built by Horace King, an black engineer who in the mid 1800s was considered the best bridge builder in the south. He earned that reputation while a slave, though he later purchased his freedom and entered into partnership with his former owner. King built the Columbus Tombigbee bridge in 1842. It was a wooden covered bridge that came off of the river bluff at 4th Avenue South and was 420 feet long and 65 feet high. He also built bridges over the Luxapalila and Yellow Creek, both of which survived into the 20th Century. A 1936 Memphis Commercial Appeal article said the Luxapalila bridge was 94 years old and was the oldest bridge in Mississippi.
 

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Eatonville, Florida - Wikipedia

Eatonville
is a town in Orange County, Florida, United States, six miles north of Orlando. It is part of the Orlando–Kissimmee metropolitan statistical area. The town includes the Eatonville Historic District.

Incorporated on August 15, 1887, it was one of the first self-governing all-black municipalities in the United States. Such towns were often created because local town and county police forces refused to protect black communities.[5] The population was 2,159 at the 2010 census.[6]

Noted author Zora Neale Hurston grew up in Eatonville, which she featured in many stories. In 1990 the town founded the Zora Neale Hurston Museum of Fine Arts. Every winter the town stages the Zora Neale Hurston Festival of the Arts and Humanities. A library named for her opened in January 2004.

Artist Jules Andre Smith has done a series of paintings depicting life in Eatonville during the 1930s and 1940s. Twelve of these works are at the Maitland Art Center in the adjacent town of Maitland.

Eatonville is home to WESH and WKCF, two television stations serving the Orlando television market.
 

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Eatonville, Florida - Wikipedia

Eatonville
is a town in Orange County, Florida, United States, six miles north of Orlando. It is part of the Orlando–Kissimmee metropolitan statistical area. The town includes the Eatonville Historic District.

Incorporated on August 15, 1887, it was one of the first self-governing all-black municipalities in the United States. Such towns were often created because local town and county police forces refused to protect black communities.[5] The population was 2,159 at the 2010 census.[6]

Noted author Zora Neale Hurston grew up in Eatonville, which she featured in many stories. In 1990 the town founded the Zora Neale Hurston Museum of Fine Arts. Every winter the town stages the Zora Neale Hurston Festival of the Arts and Humanities. A library named for her opened in January 2004.

Artist Jules Andre Smith has done a series of paintings depicting life in Eatonville during the 1930s and 1940s. Twelve of these works are at the Maitland Art Center in the adjacent town of Maitland.

Eatonville is home to WESH and WKCF, two television stations serving the Orlando television market.
There are alot of AfrAms and their history that gets forgotten about in Florida, especially the middle to lower middle parts of Florida.
People have this perception that it's "different" from the rest of us and only think of immigrants and south florida.

Places like Gifford in the Indian River area have a deep history but are stepped over and decaying communities now. Gifford, FL-Based “Pioneering Change” Set to Celebrate Their One Year Anniversary.

Also just searching though sites like this: PAS:APAL | Pioneer America Society : Association for the Preservation of Artifacts and Landscapes | PAST Journal, Volume 34, 2011
You can some across alot of unknown african american history. I can't believe i didn't know about this group until now.

The Highwaymen

The Highwaymen, a name coined by art historians in the 1990s, were a group of African American landscape painters based in Fort Pierce and other nearby communities from the 1950s-1980s. The group consisted of at least twenty-five men and one woman
, all of whom were directly or indirectly influenced by Fort Pierce landscape painter A. E. “Beanie” Backus, whose house can be found near the city’s downtown historic district. Yet while Backus had been influenced by the Hudson River School of painters, the Highwaymen developed their own recognizable styles which at times fused realism with elements of impressionism, pop art, and (in rare cases) cubism.

A typical Highwayman work of art consisted of a Florida landscape (usually variations on places known to the artists painted from memory) painted in oil on upson board and framed with white-painted (and sometimes antiqued) crown molding. An artist might be able to complete more than a dozen works over the course of a day, then sell them — often before the oil had cured — out of their cars, on street corners, or in business lobbies. The standard-sized painting might be sold for $25-$35, a sum which — though modest — enabled many of the artists to escape work in the orange groves. (During the Jim Crow era, few African Americans could expect a better fate.) Yet because of the commercial nature of these paintings, color palettes changed with popular taste, from bright oranges and teals in the 1950s to earth tones in the 1970s. In fact, most Highwaymen pieces were dismissed as “motel art” until toward the end of the twentieth century. Today, these paintings are highly sought.

The Highwaymen produced and sold more than 150,000 paintings. According to art historian Gary Monroe, the Highwaymen played an important role in solidifying an image of Florida in the popular imagination. Their paintings “had the essential ingredients with which to imagine the state: wind-swept farm trees, billowing cumulus clouds, the ocean, the setting sun. The intense and vivid colors of the images seemed otherworldly, just as an idealized Florida must have appeared to northerners. The Highwayman’s work became a popular representation of how Floridians wanted to see themselves and how they wanted others to see the state.”
 

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A lot of AA cities/towns in Texas/Oklahoma.

We need to be doing everything in our power to helping out in preserving these towns and the people in them.

So many of our people out here being forgotten about outside of the major cities and states, with our AA farmers being some of the forgotten.

This type of information needs to be pushed out there.
 

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There are alot of AfrAms and their history that gets forgotten about in Florida, especially the middle to lower middle parts of Florida.
People have this perception that it's "different" from the rest of us and only think of immigrants and south florida.

Places like Gifford in the Indian River area have a deep history but are stepped over and decaying communities now. Gifford, FL-Based “Pioneering Change” Set to Celebrate Their One Year Anniversary.

Also just searching though sites like this: PAS:APAL | Pioneer America Society : Association for the Preservation of Artifacts and Landscapes | PAST Journal, Volume 34, 2011
You can some across alot of unknown african american history. I can't believe i didn't know about this group until now.


In the entire Black Belt -is forgotten history and towns.

All Black Towns | Season 3 | ONR

Tuskegee Alabama which is basically located in Montgomery Alabama.

New York Template

Tuskegee (/tʌsˈkiːɡiː/[3]) is a city in Macon County, Alabama, United States. It was founded and laid out in 1833 by General Thomas Simpson Woodward, a Creek War veteran under Andrew Jackson, and made the county seat that year. It was incorporated in 1843.[4]It is also the largest city in Macon County. At the 2010 census the population was 9,865, down from 11,846 in 2000.

Tuskegee has been an important site in African-American history and highly influential in United States history since the 19th century. Before the American Civil War, the area was largely used as a cotton plantation, dependent on African-American slave labor. After the war, many freedmen continued to work on plantations in the rural area, which was devoted to agriculture. In 1881 the Tuskegee Normal School (now Tuskegee University, a historically black college) was founded by Lewis Adams, a former slave whose father, Jesse Adams, a slave owner, allowed him to be educated, and its first, founding principal was, Booker T. Washington who developed a national reputation and philanthropic network to support education of freedmen and their children.

In 1923, the Tuskegee Veterans Administration Medical Center was established here, initially for the estimated 300,000 African-American veterans of World War I in the South, when public facilities were racially segregated. Twenty-seven buildings were constructed on the 464-acre campus.[5]

The city was the subject of a notable civil rights case, Gomillion v. Lightfoot (1960), in which the United States Supreme Court ruled that the state legislature had violated the Fifteenth Amendment in 1957 by gerrymandering city boundaries as a 28-sided figure that excluded nearly all black voters and residents, and none of the white voters or residents.[6] The city's boundaries were restored in 1961 after the ruling.​

Also -- Alabama has Hobson City -- I went there when I was little with my parents. It was Alabama's first all Black city.

Hobson City opened opportunities for itself and other people of color within a radius of several counties. It is little wonder that Black people came from all over the region to experience, enjoy, and treasure the town. Hobson City’s “town park” was commissioned as soon as the community was incorporated. Over its decades of service this seventeen acre public open space has served as a resting place that allowed Black, or White, travelers to stop without fear of being incarcerated for vagrancy; a setting for Negro League baseball barnstorm games with the Birmingham Black Barons; the site of a classic southern juke joint; and the current backdrop for the public library.

Hobson City: How Desegregation Almost Killed Ala.'s First All-Black City
 
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Winston-Salem's African American Legacy by Cheryl Streeter Harry | Arcadia Publishing Books

Just a little background on my hometown, and it’s African American history.

Tobacco is mentioned, and how the tobacco industry allowed for the black communities in the cities to rival the black Wall Street of Tulsa and other thriving black communities at the time. My pop tells stories of picking tobacco as a kid, and how most every black person in the city knew someone who worked at the tobacco plant; RJ Reynolds. My pop used to talk of picking tobacco, having to watch out for the tobacco worms, and my grandpa buying he and his 5 other siblings one Mountain Dew bottle, and then having to share it. He said you didn’t wanna be the one with the last swig lol
 

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Salute for the thread @Citi Trends. I had a similar idea to make a thread dedicated to historical black towns and neighborhoods.

A lot of AA cities/towns in Texas/Oklahoma.

Oh I'm bout to have fun with this one. :lolbron:

Northisde of 3rd ward Houston

Early settlement grew rapidly in the post Civil War era as former slaves from within Houston’s immediate surroundings as well as plantations in Brazoria, Ft. Bend, and other counties settled in the area. Sometimes arriving on foot, they were forced into separate enclaves within each of Houston’s wards that lay on the outskirts of town. As whites moved out, African Americans moved in, establishing neighborhoods and institutions in the process. They came into the city to work as mechanics, wagon and omnibus drivers, masons, and in a number of other professions—much to the chagrin of some whites who feared losing their jobs
https://www.math.uh.edu/champ/images/Wilson.pdf

Historically White people lived in the southern part of the Third Ward, while African Americans were economically segregated and lived north of Truxillo Street. By the 1930s the White and Black populations of the Third Ward were about even. After World War II White residents and the Temple Beth Israelmoved from the Third Ward to newly developed suburbs on the southwest side, and the Third Ward became mostly African American.[6] In the post-World War II period a large number of black migrants, many of them from Louisiana and some from East Texas and other areas in the Deep South, settled the Third Ward. The community became characterized by poverty since many of these migrants were unable to get non-menial jobs. In the era of racial segregation, Almeda Road, a road located in the Third Ward area that at that time served as a corridor to
Downtown Houston, was a busy commercial corridor.[7] The construction of Interstate 45 in the 1950s separated portions of the historic Third Ward from the rest of the Third Ward and brought those portions into Downtown.[8]

The People's Party II, a community activist organization that eventually became the Houston Chapter of the Black Panther Party was originally led by Carl Hampton - a charismatic speaker who organized the PPII at 2800 Dowling Street in the spring of 1970 to address police brutality and corruption towards Black and Brown people in the community. Hampton died after being shot without provocation by police from a top of a church on July 26, 1970. Carl Hampton's contribution to the Third Ward Community was the Rainbow Coalition that included The MAYO group - a Mexican community activist group - and The John Brown Revolutionary League, a group of White community activists. These groups worked together to bring about positive changes in their working class communities by supporting each other's "survival" programs. Programs included free childcare, free food giveaway, free fumigation for poor people, assisting the elderly in the community and free sickle cell anemia testing. Charles Boko Freeman became the PPII/local Black Panther Party Chairman. Party activity continued until membership dropped in late 1974 and early 1975 due to constant police repression
Third Ward, Houston - Wikipedia

Emancipation Park, 3rd ward

Emancipation Park and Emancipation Community Center are located at 3018 Emancipation Ave in the Third Ward area of Houston. It is the oldest park in Houston, and the oldest in Texas. In portions of the Jim Crow period it was the sole public park available to African-Americans.

In 1872 Richard Allen, Richard Brock, Jack Yates, and Elias Dibble together bought 4 acres (1.6 ha) of parkland with $800 ($16731.11 adjusted for inflation).[5] The men, led by Yates, were members of the Antioch Missionary Baptist Church and the Trinity Methodist Episcopal Church.[6] They did this to commemorate the end of slavery in the United States.[7] As the owners lacked funds to keep the park open year-round, it was originally solely used for Juneteenth celebrations.[8] The park received its current name in 1872.[9]

The City of Houston received the park in 1916 as part of a donation;[4] the city converted it into a municipal park in 1918.[5] From 1922 to 1940 it was Houston's sole park for African-Americans since the city government had declared its parks racially segregated in 1922.[10] Many concerts, musical performances, and Juneteenth celebrations were held in Emancipation Park.[6]

In 1938-39, the Public Works Administration constructed a recreation center, swimming pool, and bathhouse, designed by prominent Houston architect William Ward Watkin, in the park. The buildings have been used for after-school and summer programs for children, community meetings, and classes for youth and adults.[11]

The park fell into disrepair in the 1970s after wealthier blacks left the Third Ward during the integration process.[12] By 2007 it had stopped hosting Juneteenth celebrations.[13]

In 2006, Carol Pratt Blue and Bill Milligan, natives of the Third Ward, formed "Friends of Emancipation Park" in order to revitalize the park.[14] The board was established in March 2007. On November 7, 2007 the Houston City Council declared the park a historic landmark after it voted unanimously to do so.[15]

In 2011, the city government planned to establish a capital campaign to install new facilities at the park. It spent $2 million in its own money and secured $4 million in funding from the local government corporation OST/Almeda Corridors Redevelopment Authority as well as $1 million in funding from the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department.[16] In 2012, Mayor of Houston Annise Parker made requests for donations in order to secure additional funding.[17] The renovation project had a cost of $33 million. Groundbreaking occurred on Saturday, October 26, 2013.[5]

In 2016, the City of Houston Planning Commission passed a resolution to have Dowling Avenue, a street bordering Emancipation Park named after Confederate soldier Richard W. Dowling, renamed to Emancipation Avenue.[18] In January 2017, Houston City Council voted unanimously to legally designate Emancipation Avenue.[19]

In 2017, $33.6 million worth of renovations and new developments were completed to modernize the park.[20]
Emancipation Park (Houston) - Wikipedia

^^^^^Sad story with a happy ending.
 
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4th ward/Freedman's Town Houston


Fourth Ward is one of the historic six wards of Houston, Texas, United States. The Fourth Ward is located inside the 610 Loop directly west of and adjacent to Downtown Houston. The Fourth Ward is the site of Freedmen's Town, which was a post-U.S. Civil War community of African-Americans.

The Fourth Ward was established as one of four wards by the City of Houston in 1839.[1] By 1906 it included much of what is, as of 2008, Downtown and Neartown; at that point the city stopped using the ward system.[2]

The area was the site of Freedman's Town, composed of recently freed slaves.[2] The first freed slaves departed the Brazos River cotton plantations in 1866 and entered Houston via San Felipe Road (now named West Dallas in the portion from Downtown Houston to Shepherd Drive). The slaves settled on the Buffalo Bayou's southern edge, constructing small shanties as houses. Brush arbors along the bayou and borrowed churches were used as houses of worship. Several more ex-slaves leaving plantations arrived in Freedmen's Town. One brush arbor ultimately became the Antioch Missionary Baptist Church, the church where Jack Yates served as pastor. Yates and his son, Rutherford Yates, became major community leaders in the early days of the Fourth Ward.[3] The neighborhood became the center of Houston's African-American community in the late 19th century and early 20th century.

The 1,000 freed slaves who settled the community selected the site along the southern edge of the Buffalo Bayou since the land was inexpensive and because White Americans did not want to settle on the land, which was swampy and prone to flooding. The settlers of Freedmen's Town paved the streets with bricks that they hand-made themselves.[4] An oral tradition said that in the early 20th century, members of the congregation of the Reverend Jeremiah Smith paved Andrew Street with the first bricks after the City of Houston refused to pave it. Yates, Smith, and Ned P. Pullum were three of the major Fourth Ward area ministers.[3] The residents provided their own services and utilities.[4] Residents included blacksmiths, brickmakers, doctors, haberdashers, lawyers, and teachers.[2]

From 1905 through the 1940s, the Freedman's Town area included what was Houston's largest baseball venue through 1927, West End Park. It was home to the city's Minor League baseballteam, the Houston Buffaloes, and it was the city's first venue for Negro Major League games.;[5] .[3]


Antioch Missionary Baptist Church, now in Downtown Houston


At the turn of the century, black ministers established businesses and churches and remained as community leaders. During the same period, Italian Americans moved into the Fourth Ward, including Freedmen's Town. The Italian Americans opened small businesses and, over a period of time, acquired more and more Fourth Ward property. Many had extended mercantile credit to customers, and seized property from the customers after they failed to pay off their debts. Their descendants, as of the year 2000, continued to be the owners of many residences in the Fourth Ward.[3]

In 1909, African Americans organized library at Booker T. Washington High School. They were prohibitted from accessing Houston's Lyceum and public library. In 1912 the Carnegie Colored Library of Houston was dedicated. It was demolished in 1962 when Interstate 45 was constructed through the Fourth Ward.
Fourth Ward, Houston - Wikipedia
 
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5th ward Houston

After the American Civil War, newly freed slaves (freemen) began settling in the sparsely settled area. In 1866, it became the Fifth Ward and an alderman from the ward was elected to Houston's City Council. By the mid-1880s, it was virtually all black, home to working-class people who made their livings in Houston's eastside ship channel and industrial areas or as domestics for wealthy Houstonians. Mount Vernon United Methodist Church, founded in 1865 by a former slave, is the oldest church in the ward. Five other churches are over a hundred years old. Also home to the famous "Island of Hope (Anderson Memorial Temple) COGIC" the oldest Pentecostal church in Fifth Ward. Over the years it had been home to the city's minority and immigrant population. Additional waves of Irish people, as well as Germans and Italians settled the Fifth Ward.
Fifth Ward, Houston - Wikipedia

Frenchtown 5th ward(birth place of zydeco music and where my grandma aka momo settled when she first moved from St laundry parish LA to houston)

Frenchtown is a section of the Fifth Ward in Houston, Texas. In 1922, a group of Louisiana Creoles organized Frenchtown, which contained a largely Roman Catholic and Creole culture.[1]

The Great Mississippi Flood of 1927 forced many Creoles to leave Louisiana, and they settled the Frenchtown area.[2]

The Creole people brought their musical influences, and zydeco music was established in the community. They were relatively wealthy and believed in Roman Catholicism. West wrote that Frenchtown was "clannish".[2] Around the 1950s young women from Frenchtown rarely married outside of the community,[3] and traditionally the Creoles opposed the idea of their daughters marrying dark-skinned blacks.[4] The Creole Knights, a social club including eleven members of the first families to move to Frenchtown, was in operation as of 1979. West called it one of the most exclusive such clubs in Houston.[2]

The community was about four square blocks.[3] The Our Mother of Mercy Catholic Church, completed in 1930 by Creoles for Creoles, serves as a social center for the neighborhood.[5] The Houston Press described the Continental Zydeco Ballroom at 3101 Collingsworth as serving as the "Saturday-night focal point" for Frenchtown for several decades.[6] Throughout its history, Frenchtown had narrow streets and a lack of sidewalks, complicating the riding of bicycles.
Frenchtown, Houston - Wikipedia

^^^ I disagree with how they racialize creoles to be equivalent with "mixed race" when creole simply means someone of colonial Louisiana heritage and is primarily a cultural marker for that of black and mulatto people. At best creole AAs were on average slightly lighter skinned than non-creole AAs like my paternal momo who married my grandfather. Still most creoles who migrated to Houston were black like 3 of 4 of my grandparents and only a minority were "mulatto" like my grandmas neighbor(who married a non-creole black texas woman from rural texas). Distinction between creole and non-creole AAs are non existent among native AA Houstonians of my generation and younger. Most native houston Afr'Ams are a mix of creole and non creole heritages and only refer to "creole" to mean culture or heritage that derives from the people who migrated from rural SW Louisiana during the great migration period.
 
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Independence Heights Houston

Independence Heights is a community in Houston, Texas, bordered by Crosstimbers to the north, Yale Street to the west, the 610 Loop to the south, and Airline Drive to the east.[1] The Super Neighborhood boundary created by the City of Houston is bordered by Tidwell to the north, Shepherd Drive to the west, the 610 Loop to the south, and Interstate 45 to the east.[citation needed]

Black families started to migrate to Northern Houston known as the Independence Heights around 1908. The area was developed by Wright Land Company, and consisted of small wood frame houses, purchased by the residents. Many of the houses were built by black contractors who lived in the area.

On January 25, 1915 Independence Heights, with a population of nearly 600 was incorporated, becoming the first African American municipality in Texas. George O. Burgess, a lawyer born in Milligan Texas 1876, was elected as the 1st Mayor of Independence Heights. Burgess Hall, named today located at 700 E. 34th Street was the City Hall-Courthouse until 1919. City improvements over the next few years included the shell paving of streets, plank sidewalks, and the installation of a municipal water system.[2]

On June 19, 1919 O. L. Hubbard became the second Mayor of Independence Heights. He served until 1925. Arthur L. McCullough became the third and final Mayor of Independence Heights. He served from 1925 to 1928.

In the late 1920s, there were 40 black-owned businesses in Independence Heights they included: grocery stores, restaurants, a lumber company, a watch repair shop, ice cream parlors, a cleaning and pressing shop, a drug store, a black smith shop, law offices and an electrical shop. Other professions included: teachers, attorneys, construction, longshoremen and rail road workers.

Independence Heights was annexed by the city of Houston on December 26, 1929. Today, Independence Heights is a neighborhood on the brink of redevelopment. Spearheaded by descendants of the original settlers, the community has come together and developed plans that will guide the neighborhood revitalization. In 2008, the community was damaged by Hurricane Ike. As a result, federal funding is slated to help redevelop this historic community. New homes and schools are being built
Independence Heights, Houston - Wikipedia



Sunnyside Houston

Thousands of enslaved African-Americans lived near Houston before the U.S. Civil War. Many of them near the city worked on sugar and cotton plantations, while most of those in the city limits had domestic and artisan jobs. In 1860, 49% of the city's population was enslaved.[4]

African Americans started to settle in the community and it was founded by H. H. Holmes. Sunnyside, the oldest African-American community in southern Houston, was first platted in 1912.[5] When the community opened in the 1910s, H. H. Holmes, the founder, gave the land the name Sunny Side.[6] By the 1940s area residents established a water district and a volunteer fire department. The City of Houston annexed Sunnyside in 1956.[5]


Fire Station 55, 1976
In the 1970s and 1980s the neighborhood, while low income, had healthy business activity, and was known as "Black Wall Street" or "Baby River Oaks" due to the concentration of businesses.[7]The population decreased beginning in the 1970s.[8] From the 1980 U.S. Census to the 1990 Census, many African-Americans left traditional African-American neighborhoods like Sunnyside and entered parts of Southwest Houston.[9] Sunnyside lost 30% of its population in the decade prior to August 20, 1992.[10] In addition, by the 1980s the imprisonment of African Americans, an increase in violence, and the proliferation of recreational drugs began to damage the neighborhood.[11] The 1980s oil bust also damaged the Sunnyside economy.[7]
Sunnyside, Houston - Wikipedia
 
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Acres Homes Houston

Acres Homes was established during World War I, when Houston landowners began selling homesites in the area that were large enough to contain small gardens and raise chickens or farm animals. These large areas were often divided by the acre and not by the plot, hence the name "Acres Homes". The farm capabilities of the home sites attracted many rural settlers, who dug their own wells, and built small, sanitary houses.[1] Kristen Mack of the Houston Chronicle said that Acres Homes was originally marketed as "a bit of genteel country with quick and easy access to the city." The community was also touted as a place where African Americans could own houses and land instead of being in more dense urban areas.[2] At one time it was the largest unincorporated African-American community in the Southeastern United States.[3]

As time went on, the conditions began declining due to several decades of neglect. As the rural settlers moved out of their dilapidated homes, realtors began marketing the area, largely to African Americans, as a suburban area which was not far from the city. In reality, it was a heavily wooded, sparsely settled slum without adequate transportation or educational facilities.[1] The City of Houston annexed about 725 acres (293 ha) of land in the Acres Homes area in 1967. In 1974 the city annexed another 1,469 acres (594 ha) of Acres Homes territory.[4] Mack said that the appeal of Acres Homes ended around the 1970s.[2]

Before it was annexed by the city of Houston, Acres Homes was considered to be the largest unincorporated African American community in the Southern United States. The area's location close to Garden Oaks - a primarily working-class white neighborhood in the 1960s and 1970s- birthed racial tensions in north Houston during the racial equality movement of the time. The community now includes a combination of large areas of pine forests with a scattering of homes: small tract homes built in standard suburban subdivisions, and large comfortable homes on well-maintained wooded lots. There is little commercial or industrial development. It covers 9 square miles (23 km2)
Acres Homes, Houston - Wikipedia


African American architecture in Houston- Shotgun/Rowhouses


Shotgun house, narrow house prevalent in African American communities in New Orleans and other areas of the southern United States, although the term has come to be used for such houses regardless of location. Shotgun houses generally consist of a gabled front porch and two or more rooms laid out in a straight line. Rooms are directly connected without hallways. Shotgun houses may have derived their name from that room format, as it was sometimes said that a bullet shot from the front door would pass through the house without hitting anything and exit through the back door. However, the term may also be derived from togun, the Yoruba word meaning “house” or “gathering place.” Although shotgun houses are small, were inexpensively built, and generally lack amenities, they have been praised for their architectural virtues, which include the ingenious use of limited space and decoration such as gingerbread trim and brightly painted exteriors. They represent a unique African American contribution to architecture in the United States.
Some cities, including Charlotte and Houston, created historic districts dedicated to shotgun houses and moved remaining houses to those areas.
Shotgun house | architecture

3rd ward

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4th ward

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5th ward

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BigAggieLean.

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Happy Hill, A Historic Gem That Wasn’t Preserved

Happy Hills - an old African American community in my hometown that is home to the first school built for us after the civil war, called “The African School”. The oldest black community in the city.

My pop grew up in this community before moving in his teens, but he tells how they’d have a Happy Hills big cookout each year, and my grandpa would be out there helping with the grill.
 
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