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Monday, November 09, 2015

Information on Society

The powers that be certainly don’t desire for us to have true liberation. True liberation means that the War on Drugs ends and that there is no gentrification (which is happening in communities of D.C., Oakland, New York City, etc.) in our communities. For decades and centuries, the oligarchy has harmed the lives of black people, the poor, the indigenous, and other human beings the world over. History is all about change too. The same injustices of class oppression, racism, and privatization of education exist in Chicago too. On the other hand, we also find that many human beings are tired of injustice and they want a change. Chicago is the home of the efforts of Ida B. Wells, Lorraine Hansberry, Fred Hampton, and other black people who saw evil and sought to fight it and advanced black solidarity in our world. Neoliberalism leaves the poor out in many instances and there is a book about Rahm Emanuel called, "Mayor 1%: Rahm Emanuel and the Rise of Chicago's 99%" (authored by Kari Lydersen) that talks about him. Gentrification is a calculated move without question. Back during the 1950’s, many cities used urban renewal policies to harm the social fabric of black and poor families. Also, this came in the midst of the peak of the Great Migration where African Americans left agricultural Southern locations to go into Northern, Western, and Midwestern cities (many of our people worked in the factories of Chicago, Milwaukee, Los Angeles, Detroit, Pittsburgh, etc. as a product of the Great Migration). Yet, many black people faced the same discrimination they found in the South as they found in the West, the North, and the Midwest. Even in the North and the Midwest including the West Coast, black people faced discrimination, struggling schools, police brutality, bad housing conditions, and economic exploitation. Some middle class and rich black people left black communities (especially by the late 1960's) to live in more affluent areas while doing nothing to help poorer black people. We know how classist gentrification is. Many big corporations use gentrification for the purpose of driving poor residents out of communities intentionally and that’s wrong. We want the growth of our black communities and our enterprises. We want an end to the surveillance state and the end to mandatory minimum sentencing. We also want a stronger environment. Dr. King and Malcolm X made it very clear that middle class including upper class black people have a responsibility to help out their poorer Brothers and Sisters. Fighting is part of our DNA. Regardless of how much they advance redlining, discrimination, and gentrification, we will fight for freedom and justice regardless.

The city of Houston from the 1970’s to the present has been through a lot of changes. The civil rights movement changed Houston forever. The heroic Senator from Houston named Barbara Jordan fought against Nixon's corruption during the Watergate scandal and she promoted human rights throughout her life. There was a rapid increase of the Chinese American community’s population in Houston by the 1970’s. There was the Sharpstown scandal. This scandal involved government bribes involving real estate developer Frank Sharp (the neighborhood of Sharpstown was named after him). This scandal happened in 1970 and 1971. The locations of One Shell Plaza and Two Shell Plaza were completed in 1971. One Shell Plaza was the tallest building west of the Mississippi River.   Water pollution was terrible in the Houston Ship Channel in 1972.  The Houston Independent School District was slow to desegregate public schools. So, on June 1, 1970, the federal officials struck the HISD plan down and forced it to adopt zoning laws. This was 16 years after the landmark Supreme Court ruling in Brown v. Board of Education (which determined that segregated schools are inherently unequal). There were racial tensions over the integration of schools.  Some Hispanic Americans felt they were being discriminated against when they were being put with only African-Americans as part of the desegregation plan, so many took their children out of the schools and put them inhuelgas, or protest schools, until a ruling in 1973 satisfied their demands. In 1976, Howard Hughes, at one time the world's richest man, died on his jet heading to Houston. He was born in Humble, Texas, and the home of what is now ExxonMobil. The Third Ward became the center of the African American community in the city too. By 1979, African Americans were elected to the City Council for the first time since Reconstruction. During that era of time, five African Americans served on the city council. More buildings grew in Houston like the Texas Commerce Tower, which is now the JPMorgan Chase Toward. The construction of the building began in 1979. Houston’s educational system changed too. The Houston Community College system was created in 1972 by the HISD.

In 1977, the University of Houston celebrated its 50th anniversary as the Texas Legislature established the University of Houston System. This system of higher education included and governs four universities. During the 1980’s, more changes came about in Houston. In 1981, Kathryn J. Whitmire became Houston’s first female mayor. She was mayor for 10 years. After she left office, term limits were created, so future mayors should not serve for more than 6 year. During the 1980’s, massive construction projects existed in the city. Downtown had the development of the Park Shopping Mall, the Allied Bank Tower, the Gulf Tower, and other buildings.  The Transco Tower, the tallest building in the world outside of a central business district, was completed in 1983. METRO wanted to build a rail system connecting the city with the suburbs, but the plan was rejected by voters on June 11, 1983. Voters did, however, approve plans for the George R. Brown Convention Center. In August 1983, the Houston changed its name to "University of Houston–University Park" in order to separate its identity from other universities in the University of Houston System; however, the name was reverted to University of Houston in 1991 Hurricane Alicia struck Galveston and Houston in August 18, 1983. The Hurricane caused $2 billion in damage. When oil prices fell in 1986, Houston’s massive population boom was reversed. The oil prices falling caused many years of recession for the Houston economy. The space industry was saddened by the explosion of the Challenger in Florida. In the first nine months of 1987, there was the closure of 11 banks. There was also the opening of many cultural centers like the George R. Brown Convention Center, the Wortham Theatre, and the Menil Collection. On August 7, 1988, Congressman Mickey Leland died in a plane crash in Ethiopia. On October 3, a Phillips 66 plant exploded in adjacent Pasadena, Texas, killing 23 and injuring 130. The Houston Zoo began charging admission fees for the first time in 1988. The city of Houston developed in the 1990’s as well. There was the opening of the Houston Intercontinental Airport’s new 12 gate Mickey Leland International Airlines terminal. The terminal was named after the recently deceased Houston congressman.  In 1991 Sakowitz stores shut down; the Sakowitz brothers had brought their original store from Galveston to Houston in 1911. August 10, 1991 saw a redrawing of districts for city council, so that minority groups could be better represented in the city council.

1993 saw the G8 visiting to discuss world issues, and zoning was defeated for a third time by voters in November.  Many residents of the community of Kingwood were angry at how they were forcibly annexed in 1996.  Paige became superintendent of Houston Independent School District in 1994; during his seven-year tenure the district became very well known for high test scores, and in 2001 Paige was asked to become Secretary of Education for the new George W. Bush administration. Lee P. Brown, Houston's first African-American mayor, was elected in 1997. During the 21st century, more changes happened in Houston. The Houston Oilers left the city. The city built Enron Field, now Minute Maid Park for the Houston Astros. Reliant Stadium, now NRG Stadium, was erected for the NFL expansion team Houston Texans. There was the Tropical Storm Allison that devastated many neighborhoods. It interrupted all services within the Texas medical center for several months with the flooding in June of 2001. At least 17 people were killed around the Houston area when rainfall from Allison fell on June 8th and 9th. The city’s bayous began to rise over their banks. In October of 2001, Enron (or a Houston based energy company) experienced a scandal. This led to the collapse of the company and its accounting firm Arthur Andersen. Many executives were arrested and imprisoned. The University of Houston celebrated its 75th anniversary with an enrollment of 34,443 that fall semester. At the same time, the University of Houston System celebrated its 25th anniversary with a total enrollment of over 54,000. The new international Terminal E at George Bush Intercontinental Airport opened with 30 gates in 2003. The Toyota Center, the arena for the Houston Rockets opened in fall 2003. METRO put in light rail service on January 1, 2004. Voters have decided by a close margin (52% Yes to 48% No) that METRO's light rail shall be expanded.

In 2004, Houston unveiled the first Mahatma Gandhi statue in the state of Texas at Hermann Park. Houston's Indian American Community were cheerful after 10 years, in 2010, when the Hillcroft and Harwin area were renamed Mahatma Gandhi District in honor of Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi as that area is the center of Indian commerce. Hurricane Katrina happened in 2005. After that disaster, about 200,000 New Orleans residents went into Houston. This caused a strong adjustment. After Katrina, Hurricane Rita, which was a category 5 hurricane, caused about 2.5 million Houstonians to evacuate the city, the largest urban evacuation in the history of the U.S. There is the New Great Migration of African Americans traveling from the North, the Midwest, and the West Coast into the South. Many black people have recently moved into Houston for lower cost of living and job opportunities. Six Flags Astroworld closed in 2005. It was Houston’s only large theme park. Today, the mayor of Houston is Annise Parker since January of 2010. Memorial Day storms in 2015 brought flash flooding to the city as some areas received 11 inches or more of rain overnight exacerbated by already full bayous. At least three people died and more than 1,000 cars were stranded on highways and overpasses.

By Timothy

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