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If you couldn’t tell from my Houston staycation post, I’m a Houston aficionado. I love this city. One of my favorite things about Houston is its rich history. There are so many diverse cultures in this metropolis that you can find something for everything. However, there’s really something special about being Black in Houston. The city was a pivotal location in Texas during and after slavery and has maintained a thriving Black community since. As such, there are several landmarks with special recognition to those who are Black in Houston.
Perhaps you’d like a more interactive way to celebrate Black History Month or you’re seeking black history in Houston, TX. Either way, we’ve got you covered with these 14 Black in Houston landmarks.
Table of Contents
- Black in Houston: Museums
- Black in Houston: Parks
- Black in Houston: Tours
- Black in Houston: Educational Facilities
- Black in Houston: Plantations
Black in Houston: Museums
Museum of African American History
4807 Caroline St. Houston, Tx 77004
Located in Third Ward, the Museum of African American History is dedicated to showcasing the history of Black people in Houston, Texas, and the Southwest. The tales of the past and present are mostly told through artwork here.
It’s not a large museum but that lends to its intimate nature and also allows them to display a more curated collection of exhibits. It is a great jumpstart to learning more about the history of being Black in Houston.
Admission to the Houston Museum of African American Culture is completely free but donations are encouraged.
Buffalo Soldiers National Museum
3816 Caroline St. Houston, Tx 77004
Houston is lucky enough to be home to the only museum in the United States dedicated to the history of Black soldiers in the United States. While most things at the Buffalo Soldiers National Museum aren’t specific to being Black in Houston, it is a historical landmark that simply can’t be missed.
Buffalo Soldiers were members of all Black military units comprised of those formerly enslaved, freemen, and Black Civil War soldiers. They were the first to serve during times of peace and performed a variety of tasks from herding cattle to serving campaigns against Indigenous people. They were aptly named Buffalo Soldiers as a nod to their bravery and revere.
You can learn more about the different calvaries, the campaigns they led, and their many accomplishments with a visit to the Buffalo Soldiers National Museum.
Rutherford BH Yates Museum
Project Row Houses
2521 Holman St. Houston, TX 77004
Project Row Houses are arguably the heart of the Third Ward community. These shotgun houses were previously in disrepair until a group of artists purchased and revitalized them. Today, they serve as a pillar in the community showcasing and encouraging artistic endeavors. They also provide resources to the community such as housing for single parents, small businesses, and neighborhood residents. You can enjoy unique reflections of being Black in Houston at the Project Row Houses while experiencing one of the oldest historically Black neighborhoods in Houston.
[Please note: Project Row Houses is currently closed to the conditions of the pandemic. Please check their website for more details on a future reopening.]
Black in Houston: Parks
3018 Emancipation Ave. Houston, TX 77004
When enslaved people of Texas heard of their emancipation [a whole two years after Abraham Lincoln’s proclimation], it started the annual tradition of Juneteenth. This holiday, celebrated on June 19th, represents the jubilation of those who after generations of hardship finally received their freedom. In 1872, groups of freed African Americans pooled their money to purchase several acres of land in what is now known as Houston’s Third Ward. They named it Emancipation Park in honor of their newfound freedom.
For many years, Emancipation Park was the only park in the city that could be used by Black people in Houston. Since then it has stood as a cornerstone of the neighborhood and home to many programs and initiatives for the community. There are often special exhibits held here as well like the moratorium for Black people lost to police brutality.
The Yates House at Sam Houston Park
1000 Bagby St. Houston, TX 77002
If you ever spent any time in the Historic Third Ward of Houston, then Reverend Jack Yates is a familiar name to you. He was formerly enslaved and upon emancipation dedicated his life to the enrichment and advancement of the Black community in Houston. The Yates House at Sam Houston Park houses a curated collection of artifacts from his family and even has some of the original furniture. It details not only their history but the city’s as well.
The Houston Heritage Society offers guided tours and even audio tours from your phone.
1837 Crosby St. Houston, TX 77019
Bethel Park received its name from Bethel Baptist Church that once stood in its spot. The former church was founded by freed enslaved in the 1890s and resides in Houston’s Fourth Ward [formerly Freedman’s Town]. It stood as a testament to the resiliency of the freed Black people at that time. It was also yet another contribution to the city’s history by Rev. Jack Yates. After being mostly destroyed in a fire, it was finally restored by the city and turned into the landmark we know now as Bethel Park. Guests can roam the remains of the church walls, enjoy the scenery of the park, and revel in its history.
Black in Houston: Tours
Third Ward Bike Tours by Let’s Do This Houston
2301 Elgin St. Houston, TX 77004
The Third Ward Bike Tours by Let’s Do This Houston are as Black Houston as it gets. This black-owned business specializes in tours of Third Ward on – you guessed it – bikes. But it isn’t your average bike ride. Guests are treated to unique themes to help enhance the experience. From a Bike and Brunch ride to a kid-friendly community family ride, they have a little something for everyone.
They even have curated history tours where you can learn about Black history while riding around one of Houston’s oldest Black neighborhoods.
Black in Houston: Educational Facilities
The African American Library at the Gregory School
1300 Victor St. Houston, TX 77019
The Edgar M. Gregory School, founded in 1872, became the first public school for Black students in Houston in 1876. It was located in Freedman’s town [now called Houston’s Fourth Ward] and is said to be the first school for freedmen in the state of Texas. The history of the school itself is complex and reflective of the harsh social and economic conditions of Blacks in Houston during that time period. The school often flooded and brought with it diseases that harmed or killed many of the teachers and students. It was eventually closed due to hazardous conditions.
Today, it stands as the African American Library at the Gregory School. It is the first library in the city dedicated to African-American history and culture. It is filled with everything from special exhibits, information on living legends, archival collections, and more. Visitors can also schedule a tour of the Gregory School to learn more information on its history and significance to Houston.
[Please note: Houston Public Library locations may be closed due to the current pandemic conditions. Please check their website or call them to check their availability.]
Texas Southern University
3100 Cleburne St. Houston, TX 77004
Texas Southern University is one of the largest Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU) in the country. It was initially founded off the back of segregation to provide “separate but equal” accommodations for Black students in Houston. However, thanks to an aspiring law student named Herman Sweatt, it later became a state school. Many riots, protests, and sit-ins took place on campus or by campus students. [Fun fact: the first sit-in in Houston was organized by TSU students at the Weingarten’s lunch counter at 4110 Almeda St. The restaurant is no longer but a plague stands in its place to recognize the courageous acts of those student activists.]
Now, it is an institution of its own with thousands of students and decades of history. Visitors can stroll along the Tiger Walk and see the trees dedicated to each of the Black Divine 9 National Panhellenic Council fraternities and sororities [please don’t climb the trees or sit on the benches unless you are a member of the organization] or visit the library’s African art collection. Try to catch their marching band the Ocean of Soul for a special treat.
Prairie View A&M University
100 University Dr. Prarie View, TX
Prairie View A&M University is a Historically Black College and University [HBCU] located about an hour from Houston in Prarie View, TX. It’s the second-oldest public institution of higher learning in Texas and has a history as old as time. The campus is affectionately called “The Hill”. While there you can tour the expansive campus, attend events, see the representation from all of the Divine Nine, or catch their infamous marching band Marching Storm.
Black in Houston: Plantations
Park Rd 12, Washington, TX 77880
The Barrington Plantation [or the Barrington Living History Farm] is a little outside of Houston but is still an important part of Black in Houston history. The farm is actually located within the Washington on the Brazos complex where Texas began Texas. Here is where Texan leadership huddled to sign the declaration to make Texas its own republic. But it’s also where enslaved Africans endured a life of hardship and labor under the last President of the Texas Republic Anson Jones.
They, admittedly, do not go very in-depth regarding the history of the enslaved people on this plantation. However, to their credit, it is not ignored or glazed over. There are reproductions of the slave quarters that guests can tour along with the rest of the property. Volunteers and employees on the farm dress in the clothes of the time period for an extra layer of authenticity. They also raise the same type of livestock and produce people of that time period.
Be sure to check their special events calendar as they periodically have events specific to those that were enslaved on this plantation.
Varner-Hogg Plantation State Historic Site
The Varner-Hogg Plantation is one of the oldest plantations in Texas. Located in West Columbia, TX, it is approximately an hour south of Houston. Despite its age, it is remarkably well kept and stands as a reminder of the history of Black people in Houston. Special care is taken to preserve and share the history of African Americans at Varner-Hogg Plantation. Immaculate records were kept and are shared with visitors. You can even rent a cottage to stay on-site in their authentic 1920s cottage.
Levi Jordan Plantation State Historic Site
The Levi Jordan Plantation State Historic Site was one of the largest sugar and cotton production plantations in Texas. It started with 12 enslaved Africans and eventually grew to be an essential site for trafficking additional slaves into the states. Following the emancipation of enslaved people, the sugar plantation switched to sharecropping which lengthened the history of African-Americans on the plantation.
[Please note: the Levi Jordan Plantation Site is temporarily closed for renovations. Please check their website prior to arranging a visit.]
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