Gregory Library Watch

Preserving working class Black history

Allen Parkway Village

Updated November 28, 2010 – The Allen Parkway Village (APV) public housing complex sits inside the Freedman’s Town historic district here in the Fourth Ward in Houston, Texas. It was the site of a major community organizing struggle that the tenants engaged in from 1982 until 1996. We have boxes of documents related to this struggle that we will scan and post as time permits. For now we’ve posted a small sample.

Next update will tie what happened at APV back in the 1980s to the mid 1990s to the crooked business that is currently going on at the Gregory Library. Stay tuned!

Wessie Syrus and family in front of their unit in Allen Parkway Village.

Residents Council President Lenwood Johnson working in his APV unit in 1993.

Scholarly articles:

Here is a short article that was edited down from an academic conference paper. It gives you a basic idea of the community organizing that saved Allen Parkway Village. Read that article as it was originally published in Shelterforce, the Journal of the National Housing Institute, right here:  Organizing Lessons From Allen Parkway Village or read the updated version of the same article that was published in SF Bayview: Organizing Lessons From Allen Parkway Village

Rice University publishes the architectural magazine Cite. The Winter 1984 issue featured a story called Wielding the Hatchet At Allen Parkway

In 1995 Cite published an article on APV called Depleted Legacy

Original historic documents:

The APV “Stakes in the Ground” agreement 3.22.1996 is what then Housing and Urban Development (“HUD”)  Secretary Henry Cisneros proposed to settle the standoff between residents and the City of Houston at APV. Lenwood Johnson, the President of the Residents Council and Cisneros signed it on March 22, 1996. Note U.S. Representative Sheila Jackson-Lee tried to horn in and take some credit even though all she did was attempt to stab the residents in the back at every turn. There was no signature block for her because she was not at the negotiating table.

$36 Million HUD grant to APV In January 1995, HUD Secretary Henry Cisneros signed over a thirty-six million dollar plus grant to the Houston Housing Authority to revitalize Allen Parkway Village. This document shows a few specifics. Note that it was the APV residents, including Wessie Cyrus, (now known as Njeri Shakur), Mary Pruitt and Lenwood Johnson that led the successful fight to save Allen Parkway.

The full text of the Rehabilitation of Allen Parkway Village Houston, TX field hearing before the Subcommittee on Housing and Community Development of the Committee of Banking, Finance and Urban Affairs, House of Representatives, One Hundred Third Congress, first session, Houston, TX, Tuesday December 14, 1993 is available by clicking Rehab Of APV Congressional Hearing 12.14.1993


Lenwood Johnson and Njeri Shakur discuss Texas Southern University’s failure to make late Congressman Mickey Leland’s papers available 21 years after his death:

Exiled APV residents hold press conference at TSU 11.18.10 from Tim O’Brien on Vimeo.

APV resident leader Njeri Shakur gives an overview of her experience living in Allen Parkway:

Njeri Shakur part 1 10.2.10 from Tim O’Brien on Vimeo.

Njeri Shakur part two 10.2.10 from Tim O’Brien on Vimeo.

Njeri Shakur part three 10.2.10 from Tim O’Brien on Vimeo.

Njeri Shakur part four 10.2.10 from Tim O’Brien on Vimeo.

Mainstream media articles:

Vote to rescind order to demolish APV HouChron 2.23.89

Eye of the Storm NYT article 3.3.1989

Was This Disaster Necessary? HouPress 12.9.93

Once More Unto the Village HouPress 12.23.1993

Lanier Village HouPress 5.11.95

Houstons Housing Hou Press 8.17.95

Lenwood Johnson’s Last Stand HouPress 12.14.95

Moving Day HouPress 6.20.1996

Situational Ethics HouPress 3.26.98

O\’Brien\’s Song HouPress 12.9.09

Coalition / Endorsers:

In 1993, the Houston Housing Concern rallied over 100 organizations to endorse preservation of APV and the  Fourth Ward. Here’s that list  of endorsers for the preservation of APV and 4th Ward.

Lenwood Johnson and HUD Secretary Henry Cisneros (and aide) in his office in Washington, D.C.


  1. Tim,
    All of the photos and articles are so valuable, in other words they are priceless. Thanks for putting all of the history from Freedman’s Town together and making it available to the public. I pray that they read and appreciate your work, especially the new residents of FT.

    Comment by Sally Wickers | November 2, 2010 | Reply

  2. […] Allen Parkway Village […]

    Pingback by Mayor Parker screws 4th Ward again « Gregory Library Watch | December 17, 2010 | Reply

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