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ABOUT

To educate, connect, and empower Black Houston through travel, tourism, and historic preservation.

Dr. Lindsay Gary (PhD, MFA, MA, MPA) is a professor-scholar, conceptual diasporArtist, Afrocentric entrepreneur, and cultural curator whose mission is to educate, connect, and empower the African Diaspora.

She graduated from the University of Houston with a BA in History and minors in Dance and Business Administration, and later obtained her Graduate Certificate in African American Studies. She also has an MA in History, an MPA in Public Policy, and an MFA in Dance, and recently obtained her PhD in Africology and African American Studies from Temple University. Gary is an adjunct professor of African American Studies at the University of Houston and of History at Houston Community College, in addition to being the Executive Director of The Re-Education Project (501c3), the Artistic and Executive Director of Dance Afrikana LLC, and the CEO of Isegun Enterprises LLC (home of Sawari Tours, Afrikanah Book Club, Gumbo: The Podcast, and more).

 

 

She is the author of The New Red Book: A Guide to 50 of Houston's Black Historical and Cultural Sites, and the director and creator of "Who Yo' People?", a documentary film that explores the African heritage of Louisiana. She was born and raised on Karankawa, Akokisa, and Atakapa-Ishak lands (Houston, Texas), and is an Afro-Louisianian of Mandinka, Fula, Balanta, Temne, Hausa, Malagasy, Tsogo, Ateke, Kota, Kongo, Fon, and Muskogee (Creek) heritage. She conducts much of her work in her neighborhood of Third Ward, in South Louisiana (her recent ancestral roots), Senegal, and throughout other parts of Africa and the African Diaspora. She has traveled to 39 countries. She serves as a board member for the University of Houston’s Black Alumni Association.

 

 

OUR FOUNDER

The New Red Book Historical Black Communities - Dr. Lindsay Gary

DR. LINDSAY GARY DAY

On September 8th, 2023, Mayor Sylvester Turner and the City of Houston signed a proclamation to declare this day as Dr. Lindsay Gary Day. Dr. Gary received this award for her publication of The New Red Book: A Guide to 50 of Houston’s Black Historical and Cultural Sites and her curation of “The New Red Book Exhibit.” Join our annual celebration to honor Black Houston.

Dr. Lindsay Gary Day

HISTORY

Black Houston History Overview

by Dr. Lindsay Gary

 

History of African Americans in Houston

 

Excerpt from The New Red Book: A Guide to 50 of Houston’s Black Historical and Cultural Sites

 

The land now known as Houston was originally inhabited by the Akokisa, Atakapa-Ishak, Karankawa, and Sana peoples. Like the other First Peoples of the Americas, they’d dwelled here thousands of years before Europeans. Upon the arrival of Europeans in the 16th century, who arrived with captive Africans on their earliest voyages, Texas  embarked on centuries of transitions between different powers. In fact, “six flags over Texas” refers to these groups that had taken control over Texas throughout history--the Kingdom of Spain, the Mexican Federal Republic, the Kingdom of France, the Republic of Texas, the United States of America, and the Confederate States of America. With these changes, Europeans and their descendants benefited most, while Native Americans continued to be displaced and massacred, and Africans brutalized and enslaved.The earliest known African in Texas was Estevanico, who landed in what would later become Galveston. From northern Africa, he had been enslaved by the Spanish, and was a part of their voyages to the Americas. They arrived in southeast Texas in the year 1529, starting a long history of enslaved Africans in the state and in the city of Houston and its surrounding areas.

 

This enslavement, marked by terror and the belief that Africans were chattel, ended on record on Juneteenth (June 19th) 1865. During their enslavement, Africans built the infrastructure of this land under various groups of enslavers--primarily Spanish, Mexican, French, and Anglo. Sometimes these enslavers were also Jewish and Irish, and a few were Native Americans. 

Africans in Texas endured hundreds of years of hardships but continuously utilized agency--from escaping to Mexico after its abolishment of enslavement under its Afro-Mexican president Vicente Guerrero to using the constant power struggle over Texas to organize riots. These attempts were successful for some and unsuccessful for others but their quest for freedom never wavered. After Emancipation, the first thing Africans did was organize their own schools, businesses, and institutions in order to turn their freedom into full liberation. This was increasingly important after 1865 as they weren’t fully free under the laws of the United States Constitution. The 13th Amendment states that slavery was abolished except in the case of a crime. During the next one hundred years, they were constantly faced with other forms of enslavement such as convict leasing, sharecropping, and peonage. They remained organized to combat these circumstances on all fronts. 

 

 

DISCOVER CULTURE & HISTORY

Houston, Texas Skyline

NEIGHBORHOODS

SUNNYSIDE

Sunnyside, once known as “Baby River Oaks” is located on Houston’s south side, adjacent to South Park and south of The Third Ward. One of the city’s oldest Black neighborhoods, it was once an area outside of city limits, like Independence Heights and Acre Homes, and sat on farm land. It was purchased in 1912 by H. H. Holmes, the former City Councilman and real estate developer from which the area’s Holmes Road bears its name. According to historical record, it was Holmes who referred to the area as “the sunny side,” and his goal was to create an area exclusively for African Americans. This plan was consistent with the city’s policies around racially segregated communities and public facilities. Sunnyside was officially established three years later when the first families began moving in. Many saw this not only as an opportunity to own land, but also to afford some protection, albeit minimal, from the intense racism and terror that marked the years leading up to the 1920s in America.

 

To support the growing community, Sunnyside Colored County School was established in 1918, and a few years later, Mt. Vernon Baptist Church was built. Due to the nature of Sunnyside’s establishment, it worked mostly independently of the city with the school not becoming a part of Houston Independent School District until 1927 and the city not providing services like lighting and drainage. The residents organized to create their own civic club, fire department, and water district to alleviate these issues. The area continued to experience growth–doubling as both a rural and urban area. Businesses sprung up all around to support the residents, and like The Fifth Ward and The Third Ward, Sunnyside became another one of Houston’s Black Wall Streets. Some of these included Poindexter Dental and Terry’s Grocery. Amidst the growth though, the community still had to work continuously to obtain infrastructural services that were afforded to other parts of the city, particularly those in white neighborhoods. The neglect of the area by the city of Houston has been a consistent theme, and frankly, has become a part of the social fabric and character of devoted historic residents.

The area is now bordered by 610 South, Hwy 288, Sims Bayou, Martin Luther King Boulevard, and some of its most notable streets are Scott Street, Reed Road, and Airport Boulevard. Not only are they frequented by drivers, but it is common to witness Black cowgirls and cowboys riding horses along the sidewalks amidst traffic, a legacy in line with its rural origins and with the “prancing colt” mascot of Worthing High School.

It is home to Worthing High School, Attucks Middle School, and Young Elementary School. Evan E. Worthing, the high school’s namesake, donated his wealth which ultimately helped establish the high school in the area. Attucks Middle School bears the name of Crispus Attucks, the first martyr of the American Revolution, who was a formerly enslaved African (American). And in 1999, Sunny Side School became Young Elementary. It was named after the school’s first principal, Ethel Mosley Young. The area is also home to St. Philip Neri, one of Houston’s Black Catholic churches. This church and former school was established to support the Louisiana Creole community moving into the area in the 1950s.  

Over the past few decades, Sunnyside has experienced many challenges, from flooding and drainage, ongoing issues which have plagued the area since it was created, to poverty and crime. Even with these challenges though, historic residents have continued to exercise their adjacency to combat them. They have even welcomed newer residents, primarily Latino, who have begun to diversify the historical Black community. But despite its challenges, many residents still see “the sunny side” that their parents, grandparents, and great grandparents saw, and remain Sunnyside proud.

DEMOGRAPHICS

DETAILED BLACK, AFRICAN AMERICAN ALONE OR IN ANY COMBINATION GROUPS IN HARRIS COUNTY, TX, FROM THE 2020 CENSUS.

Houston Texas Racial Demographics

African American                                                 534,415

Nigerian (Nigeria)            34,937

Jamaican      7,541

Ethiopian     5,058

Haitian   3,366

Trinidadian and Tobagonian   3,324

Congolese   2,577

Cameroonian   2,525

Ghanian   2,427

Kenyan    2,013

Eritrean    1,832

West Indian   1,642

South African   1,468

Liberian   1,175

Sudanese      984

Somali      888

St. Lucian      706

Angolan      674

Tanzanian      548

Sierra Leonean      533

Ivorian      475

U.S. Virgin Islander      467

Senegalese      446

Bahamian      411

Rwandan      399

Ugandan      382

Barbadian      342

Mallan      280

Burundian      280

Gabonese      268

Togolese      254

South Sudanese      242

Grenadian      240

Dominica Islander      206

Antiguan and Barbudan      201

Zimbabwean      194

Beninese      190

Equatorial Guinean      168

Guinean      134

Kittian and Nevisian      132

Zambian      118

Chadian        88

Malagasy        66

Vincentian        65

Malawian        37

Mozambican        36

Nigerien (Niger)        26

Nambian        22

TEAM

DIGITAL MARKETING LEAD

LAYLAH JORDAN

SOCIAL MEDIA ASSISTANT

REBECCA GALARZA

 

 

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Graffiti in Houston, Texas

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