Sunday, October 4, 2009

Organizing Lessons from Allen Parkway Village

posted by Free Press Houston @ 6:35 PM


by Timothy O’Brien

Houston hero Lenwood Johnson has been organizing residents of Freedmen’s Town in 4th Ward for over 30 years, fighting demolition and gentrification of the city’s oldest Black neighborhood. He reminds everyone of the price paid by the founders to make a home for their people in perpetuity: The bricks that pave many of the historic streets in Freedmen’s Town were hand made over a century ago by formerly enslaved Africans.
Houston hero Lenwood Johnson has been organizing residents of Freedmen’s Town in 4th Ward for over 30 years, fighting demolition and gentrification of the city’s oldest Black neighborhood. He reminds everyone of the price paid by the founders to make a home for their people in perpetuity: The bricks that pave many of the historic streets in Freedmen’s Town were hand made over a century ago by formerly enslaved Africans.
When Lenwood E. Johnson, the son of Texas sharecroppers, moved into Houston’s Allen Parkway Village project housing, the Freedmen’s Town section of the city had yet to be designated historic and the village had yet to be saved. By the end of the 1990s, the village was preserved and Johnson had proved to be something of an unlikely hero here in Houston’s 4th Ward, historically one of the poorest sections of the city – but always ripe for redevelopment because of its proximity to the downtown.

Opened as San Felipe Courts in 1944, the 1,000-unit Allen Parkway Village (APV), whose namesake is the parkway named for Houston founders John and Augustus Allen, was the crown jewel of the Housing Authority of the City of Houston (HACH) and the largest one in the South.

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