- Jamey Watts
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The original Thompson Elementary opened as Southland Elementary School in 1915 as a school for white students. In 1967, Southland, as well as other HISD schools, became integrated. The ethnicity of the school increasingly changed and Southland became a minority school consisting of African-Americans and a small percentage of Hispanics.
The school was renamed Ruby L. Thompson Elementary in 1980, after a well-respected HISD administrator and educator. Thompson taught at Blanche Bruce Elementary School, served as principal of George Turner and Twenty Third Avenue Elementary Schools, and became the district's first black female supervisor. The daughter of Lucian Lockhart, for whom another HISD school is named, Thompson retired after 46 years of service to the district.
Cullen Middle School (link)
On November 21, 1954, the Foster Elementary Parent/Teacher Association (PTA) held a meeting of approximately 400 concerned parents, teachers, and community leaders. They wanted a say in choosing the name of the new Junior High School built in their neighborhood. The PTA voted and chose the name: Ezekiel W. Cullen. The Association submitted its request to the H.I.S.D. board of trustees. On November 22, 1954, during a regular board meeting, the H.I.S.D. superintendent, William Moreland, recommended that a new junior high school located near Scott and Yellowstone streets be named Ezekiel W. Cullen Middle Jr. High. Mr. Moreland said that the Foster PTA felt it was particularly fitting that a man who served the cause of public education so well over more than 100 years before being honored during the Centennial Year of Public School in Texas. Mr. Ezekiel W. Cullen served in the Texas House of Representatives and was the chairperson of the Education Committee to the third Congress of the Republic of Texas in 1839. He was also the author of the bill which established public schools in Texas.
Ryan Middle School (link)
After Yates High School relocated from 2610 Elgin to 3703 Sampson in 1958, Ryan Colored Junior High School opened in Yates's former location. Ryan was named after the first principal of Yates High
The HISD school board forced Yates principal William S. Holland to stay at Ryan Middle School instead of moving onto the new Yates, and a petition from the community did not succeed in changing this
The school opened as a school only for African-Americans; it was desegregated by 1970.
Beginning in 1988 Chase Enterprises subsidiary Rangers Insurance Co. assigned employees to tutor Ryan students, funded school supplies and computers for Ryan, and established a scholarship/endowment fund to provide vocational training and/or university educations to Ryan alumni who abstained from recreational drugs, did not get into legal trouble, and graduated from high school; from 1992 to 1999 166 eligible Ryan alumni benefited from the scholarship. Annually the company deposited $150,000 into the scholarship/endowment fund.
Jack Yates High School (link 1, link 2)
Yates was established on February 8, 1926, as Yates Colored High School with 17 teachers and 600 students.
Jack Yates Senior High School opened its doors on February 8, 1926 establishing the second school for children of color in the city of Houston. On its opening day, the school had a staff of 17 teachers, and a total of 600 students.
Our school is named after the Reverend Jack Yates, a former slave who eventually became one of the most influential leaders of Fourth Ward Houston in the 19th century. Reverend Yates founded both Bethel and Antioch Baptist Churches, around which the Fourth Ward grew, and sponsored many other churches and schools in hopes of developing youth as leaders.
James D. Ryan served as the first principal of the campus from its opening in 1926 until his death in 1941. Originally located at 2610 Elgin, at the former James D. Ryan Middle School site (now the Baylor College of Medicine at Ryan), the campus moved to its current location at 3703 Sampson Street in 1958.
Texas Southern University (link)
Texas Southern University was established on March 3, 1947 by the fiftieth Texas Legislature. Although originally founded as the Texas State University for Negroes, it became the first state-supported institution in the City of Houston. In 1951 the institution was renamed Texas Southern University (TSU). Although the University was initially established to educate AfricanAmericans, it has become one of the most ethnically diverse institutions in the state. Additionally, its focus and mission has significantly evolved since those early years from a comprehensive generalist focus to an institution focused on the unique needs of an urban clientele. So much so, that in 1973 the Texas Legislature recognized TSU’s involvement in programs and services particularly suited to the needs of urban residents by designating the institution as “a special purpose institution for urban programming.”
George Nelson Park (Yellowstone Park) (link)
George T. “Pop” Nelson, born on February 27, 1905, in Houston, Texas, was a businessman, sports promoter, activist, and an important part of the civil rights movement in Houston. Some of Nelson’s most notable achievements include his involvement in the integration of the Houston Independent School District, in helping to secure African Americans access to vote in Texas Democratic primaries, and his contributions to Black sports in Texas. Nelson owned the Temple barbershop in downtown Houston. As an independent business owner, Nelson could participate as a civil rights activist without threatening his livelihood. In the Temple barbershop, the discussions about the need to change Houston race relations had far-reaching effects on the future of the city.
MacGregor Park (link)
When people hear the name MacGregor Park they likely think of two notable Houstonians: Henry F. MacGregor, a businessman and philanthropist who helped shape Houston’s development in the early twentieth century, and whose family donated the land for the park in his honor; and Olympian Zina Garrison, who became a world champion tennis player through the MacGregor Park Junior Tennis Program in the 1970s and later returned to Houston to encourage others to take up the game. Today the park offers a welcome respite to residents of Southeast Houston by providing a safe, well-maintained park with recreational opportunities for the entire community.
Emancipation Park (link)
In 1872, Richard Allen, Richard Brock, Jack Yates, and Elias Dibble together bought 10 acres of parkland with $800 ($18095.56 in 2013 inflation-adjusted dollars).The men, led by Yates, were members of the Antioch Missionary Baptist Church and the Trinity Methodist Episcopal Church. They did this to commemorate the end of slavery in the United States. As the owners lacked funds to keep the park open year-round, it was originally solely used for Juneteenth celebrations. The park received its current name in 1872.
The City of Houston received the park in 1916 as part of a donation; the city converted it into a municipal park in 1918. 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. Many concerts, musical performances, and Juneteenth celebrations were held in Emancipation Park.
In 2006, Carol Parrott Blue and Bill Milligan, natives of the Third Ward, formed "Friends of Emancipation Park" in order to revitalize the park.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.
Houston Forward Times
The Houston Forward Times is a weekly newspaper headquartered in Houston, Texas. It is one of the largest black-owned newspapers in the city. It is published by the Forward Times Publishing Company, which also publishes other publications such as the Daily Cougar. As of 2014 the FT is one of the few remaining self-printing black newspapers.
Julius Carter started the newspaper in 1960. Julius wanted the Forward Times to be a cutting-edge paper, providing the Black community with news that was relevant to them, as opposed to simply sharing generic national stories or promoting social and church events. Most of the issues and stories that were important to the Black community were either ignored or not picked up by the mainstream White press. This made the Forward Times even more relevant, because it became a primary source of getting information out to the Black community about stories and issues affecting them.
Karen Carter Richards, daughter of Julius and Lenora Carter, continues as the CEO and Publisher of the Forward Times. In September 2010 the Julius and Lenora Carter Scholarship and Youth Foundation was established, which publicly benefits low- and/or medium-income graduating seniors and college students of private and public schools within the Greater Houston Metropolitan area, and also interns students through the Forward Times Publishing Company.
Project Row Houses (link)
Project Row Houses (PRH) is, and has always been, a unique experiment in activating the intersections between art, cultural and historic preservation, affordable and innovative housing, community engagement and development, neighborhood revitalization, and human empowerment.
Seven visionary African-American artists working in Houston in 1993—James Bettison (1958-1997), Bert Long, Jr. (1940-2013), Jesse Lott, Rick Lowe, Floyd Newsum, Bert Samples, and George Smith—recognized real potential in a block and a half of derelict shotgun houses at the corner of Holman and Live Oak. Where others saw poverty, these artists saw a future site for positive, creative, and transformative experiences in the Third Ward. Together they began to explore how they could be a resource to the community and how art, freed from traditional studio practice, could be an engine for social transformation.
For almost thirty years, the community they built has brought together groups and pooled resources to materialize sustainable opportunities for artists, young mothers, small businesses, and Third Ward residents, helping to cultivate independent change agents by supporting people and their ideas so that they have tools and capacity to do the same for others.
Provost Studios (link)
There were only four Black Professional Portrait Photographers in Houston, beginning in 1919. They were: A.C. Teal, Herbert J. Provost, Louise Martin and Benny Joseph.
Only one operated a school – A.C. Teal, owner of Teal Photography School located on the campus of what was once known as Houston Junior College for Negroes and is currently known as Texas Southern University (TSU).