Monday, November 23, 2015

Monday Information

Houston has a long history with the Civil War. In 1860, most Houstonians supported John C. Breckenridge or the independent Democratic candidate for President. He lost the election to the Republican Abraham Lincoln. Texas was one of the first states to vote to secede from the Union and join the Confederacy in 1861. General E. Tiggs or the commander of federal forces in Texas surrendered the federal arsenal in San Antonio to secessionist volunteers led by the famed Texas Ranger Ben McCulloch, along with additional army posts, etc. in Texas. Governor Sam Houston refused to take a loyalty oath to the Confederacy. He was a slave owner and he opposed secession. He died in 1863 while living in Texas.  In Houston, there were tensions between the Confederacy and the few Union sympathizers. The Chamber of Commerce kept the city together during the conflict. Galveston was blockaded on October 4, 1862, which in turn soured Houston's economy. On January 1, 1863, John B. Magruder's Confederate forces recaptured the city. However, the war was won by the Union forces in 1865.The Union and Confederate battles in the land and via the water have been fierce. The Confederates once regain control of Galveston after the Battle of Galveston on January 1, 1863. Federal union people attacked Laredo on March 19, 1864. The Confederates in Texas were some of the toughest forces to be defeated during the Civil War. There was fighting in Palmito Ranch, near Brownsville, Texas in May 13, 1865. Federal troops entered Texas to enforce Reconstruction efforts under the military of General Philip Sheridan later on. On June 19, 1865, General Gordon Granger (commander of U.S. troops in Texas) arrived in Galveston, Texas and issued an order that the Emancipation Proclamation is in effect. This ended slavery in Texas. The event is later celebrated as Juneteenth, especially by black Americans. Texas was governed under a military command during Reconstruction, but Federal forces could not control the anarchy and lawlessness that broke out after the war. Civilians settled old grudges and several counties were essentially without civilian government. In 1869, the Ship Channel Company was formed to deepen Buffalo Bayou and improve Houston as a shipping port.

Despite the postwar social unrest, migrants flocked to Texas for new opportunities. Texas businessmen joined together to expand the railroad network, which contributed to Houston's primacy in the state and the development of Dallas, Fort Worth, San Antonio and El Paso. In May 1870, Houston was the site of the Texas State Fair. The fair remained in Houston until 1878. Texas was admitted to the Union on April 16, 1870. Houston grew as a city. It became a port of entry on July 16, 1870. Its new charter grew to eight wards. Many freed slaves opened businesses and worked under contracts in Houston. The Freedmen’s Bureau stopped the abuse of the contracts in 1870. Many African Americans during that time were in unskilled labor jobs. Many freed black people legalized their marriages after the Civil War. White legislators wanted segregated schools. After the white Democrats regained power in the state legislature in the late 1870’s, they started to pass laws to make voter registration more complicated. This caused the disfranchising of African Americans. The elections of 1876 were accompanied in many southern states with fraud and violence to suppress black voting. White Democrats secured their power and then they passed Jim Crow laws to establish and enforce legal segregation in Houston and throughout Texas. By 1874, Houston’s first permanent public transit system was operated by the Houston City Street Railway Company. From 1874 to 1891, all of the transit service was operated using mule-driven streetcars, when electric streetcars began to be implemented in their place. The conversion to electric streetcars was completed in 1892. Lumber became a large part of the port's exports, with merchandise as its chief import. The Houston Post was established in 1880. The Houston Chronicle followed on August 23 of that year. Former U. S. President Ulysses Grant came to Houston to celebrate the opening of the Union Station, which had rail links with New Orleans. Fifth Ward residents threatened to secede from Houston because they felt they already had been separated. An iron drawbridge built in 1883 pacified them, and they did not secede. In 1887, the Sisters of Charity of the Incarnate Word established a hospital that would become St. Joseph Hospital. In 1893, George H. Hermann donated a site for the purpose of a charitable hospital, which later became Memorial Hermann Hospital in the Texas Medical Center. In 1898, Houstonians appealed before Congress for permission to turn the Buffalo Bayou into a deep-water port, prompted in part by the Spanish–American War. The construction of the Port of Houston was approved by Congress in 1899.

One huge aspect of Atlanta has always been music. Music from Atlanta has not only influenced America, but the world. Atlanta is known for having a thriving music industry. It is known to be one of the capital cities of hip hop, crunk, R&B, neo-soul, gospel, country, etc. Also, there is a thriving industry of indie-rock (with artists like the Indigo Girls, The Black Crowes, etc.), classical country, and blues. Blind Willie McTell is a great blues singer. A lot of people don’t know that from the 1920’s to the 1950’s. Fiddlin John Carson was a star of Atlanta country music back decades ago. Atlanta was a major center for country music. Woodruff Arts Center is the home of the Alliance Theater and Atlanta Symphony Orchestra. As for hip hop, Atlanta is known for many of well-known artists. There are artists like B.o.B., Kriss Kross, TI, Outkast, Killer Mike, the Dungeon Family, Ludacris, Lil Jon, Jermaine Dupri, and tons of artists plus producers who are born in Atlanta or are based in Atlanta. Atlanta R and B artists include of course Monica, Xscape, Ciara, Lloyd, Usher, and other talented artists. Neo-soul has a strong base in Atlanta. India Arie is known for her music and she has a great consciousness and excellent creativity. There are other neo-soul artists like Society of Soul, Laurnea, Kemetic Just, Divinity Roxx, Sleepy Brown, Khari Simmons, Anthony David, etc. Atlanta have celebrations about gospel all of the time. Sallie B. Parrish is a well-known Atlanta Gospel singer. The ASO Gospel Choir is based in Atlanta that show the talents of many men and women who want to sing their songs about love, hope, joy, spirituality, and triumph. Robyn Lakee is a Sister who is a gospel singer too. Atlanta is known for its live music scene as well.

Houston has a strong civil rights history too. A lot of the mainstream media didn’t cover it (they have covered Selma, Little Rock, Bogalusa, Prince Edward County, the University of Mississippi campus, etc.), but many people fought for civil rights in the city of Houston.  Mexican Americans in the Gulf Coast area near Houston and in El Paso organized the ConfederaciĆ³n de Organizaciones Mexicanas y Latino Americanas in the late 1930s, also for the purpose of eradicating racist policies. The black movement, for its part, won increased white support in the 1930s from the ranks of the Association of Southern Women for the Prevention of Lynching and from such prominent congressmen as Maury Maverick. There was a fight for the desegregation of public facilities in Houston. There were many civil rights activists who wanted to use civil demonstrations to promote change. Segregation in Houston back then was embedded in the system. There were racial tensions in the 1960’s. Many Houstonians feared that any activism would cause more racial strife because of the Camp Logan riot of 1917. Many black people in Houston were assaulted and discriminated against by white racists. Many of the older black, affluent Houston population weren’t so apt to have public demonstrations at first. Eldrewey Stearns was a black Texas Southern University or TSU law students. He said that he was beaten by officers after he was arrested. He talked about his experience in August of 1959. A young then Houston journalist Dan Rather reported on the story. This caused more people to see racial issues in the city when Houston at that time has the largest amount of African Americans in a Southern city. The NAACP was involved in a victory of Smith v. Allwright case (which the Supreme Court banned all white democratic primary in Texas). The NAACP won another victory by allowing the Supreme Court to ban segregation at the University of Texas Law School in 1946 (in the Sweatt v. Painter case).  Change would be slow in Houston.

So, young TSU students organized the firs sit in demonstration in Houston in March 4, 1960 at Weingarten’s Store or a local supermarket. Stearns was involved in this effort. No violence happened in the demonstration. TSU student Curtis Graves was involved in the action of the sit in in Mading’s Drug Store. Ironically, conservative black people and political figures wanted the sit ins to quietly end. Mayor Cutrer later threatened the protesters with arrest if they continued the sit ins. Many whites served black people during the protests since they wanted no violence. In March 25, 1960, people served the mass of student activists in City Hall cafeteria. Desegregation in Houston would be a slow process. The powers that be in Houston didn’t want massive violence, so they wanted to advance the image of Houston of being a money city and being more progressive (not to promote real equality). In conjunction with the National March on Washington in 1963, approximately 900 protesters marched on the state Capitol. The group, which included Hispanics, blacks, and whites, attacked the slow pace of desegregation in the state and Governor John Connally's opposition to the pending civil-rights bill in Washington. In the March on Washington, 23 black people from Houston, Texas came to D.C. By the latter half of the sixties, some segments of the black community flocked to the cause of Black Power.  The Twenty-fourth Amendment, ratified in 1964, barred the poll tax in federal elections, and that same year Congress passed the Civil Rights Act outlawing the Jim Crow tradition. Texas followed suit in 1969 by repealing its own separatist statutes. The federal Voting Rights Act of 1965 eliminated local restrictions to voting and required that federal marshals monitor election proceedings. Ten years later, another voting-rights act demanded modification or elimination of at-large elections. The Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund, founded in 1968, emerged as a powerful civil rights organization. It focused on the state's inequitable system of financing schools, redistricting, and related problems. The list of Texas civil rights leaders is long: Maceo Smith, Carter Wesley, William Durham, Lulu White and many others.

By Timothy

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