ABOVE: The Covington House
Under the leadership of the Emancipation Economic Development Council | Faith in Action Workgroup, they have been working to mobilize community ‘tradition bearers’ and storytellers to videotape and document the stories of residents and collect artifacts, photographs, and documents to preserve a record of the contributions of African Americans in the Emancipation Park neighborhood since the beginning of slavery in America.
Their focus has been involving community residents, historians, genealogists and people with ties to Third Ward to telling our fascinating history and experiences. This work will be preserved in a collection at the African American Library at the Gregory School for future generations. This work will help make Third Ward a unique tourism destination in order to drive commerce to the Emancipation Avenue district.
A kickoff event has been scheduled entitled “Preserving Our History-Revitalizing Our Community” for Saturday, January 12, 2018, at the Emancipation Park Cultural Center from 5:30 p.m. – 7:00 p.m., where the community will hear how they can participate in preserving community history and supporting the Emancipation Avenue Main Street work to revitalize the Emancipation Avenue Corridor.
“We could use professionals to do a project like this, but we are relying on a network of volunteers and community organizations to help with this initiative so that the stories told have an intimate dimension that is uniquely Third Ward,” said Dolores Rodgers, EEDC Board Member. “We need to tell our own stories and document our history for future generations.”
Over the next two years, the Legacies of the Emancipation Park Neighborhood will launch several major projects:
1. The Emancipation Park Red Book—a compendium of social, professional, religious, education, and business interests of African American residents. The on-line version of the Red Book Houston has chronicled African American life in Houston at the turn of the 19th century. It was published by Sotex Publishing Company in 1915 and sold for $3.15. The book is a part of the National Archives. This history is fascinating, reflects our heritage as a community, and must be highlighted for future generations. They will create the 2nd version of this book to reflect our accomplishments since 1915 in our community. They will ask the community to submit family histories, photographs, and documents about life in the Third Ward since the publication of the first Red Book. The on-line link to the Red Book, Houston: https://archive.org/details/redbookofhouston00sote/page/n3.
2. Video archives of stories of community ‘tradition bearers’ and storytellers connected to the Emancipation Park Neighborhood and the community businesses, schools, churches including the social life and significant historic events that occurred in the community. They will hold videotaping sessions at Jack Yates High School, the Emancipation Conservancy, and the African American Library at the Gregory School.
3. Walking Tour & Community App of historic places in Third Ward to promote tourism and support local neighborhood businesses. They will work with local historic preservation groups like the H-Town Historical and Genealogical Society and Friends of the African American Library at the Gregory School to research local family histories and restore historic markers in the area.
4. Community Art Piece – They will celebrate the rich history and accomplishments of the African American residents in the Emancipation Park Neighborhood as a part of the 400-year Remembrance of the United States Slave Trade. They will work with the Artists’ Collective to guide the creation of an artistic expression of the Third Ward community.
The video interviews, artifacts, and documents will be available to community partners, researchers, and residents to support local non-profits and for educational purposes. Future generations will be able to visit the “Legacies of the Emancipation Park Neighborhood” exhibit at the African American Library @ the Gregory School.
Community volunteers, researchers, and ‘tradition bearers’ interested in sharing their stories, photographs, artifacts, and documents will be able to register for interviews at the kickoff event on Saturday or register to participate in future events and projects by visiting their website: www.EmancipationHouston.org or texting your contact information to 346.298.3819.