Gregory Library Watch

Preserving working class Black history

Houston Chronicle covers (up?) our issue

On Sunday November 14, the Houston Chronicle ran a short piece about the Gregory Library. They were responding to a press conference we called on Saturday November 13, which marked the one year anniversary of the facility.

Here is the photo and the complete text of the article:

Critics accuse library of selective history

Activists say story of poor blacks excluded

By HIBA ADI
HOUSTON CHRONICLE

Nov. 13, 2010, 10:23PM

A handful of activists from Freedmen’s Town spent the first anniversary of the African American Library at the Gregory School voicing concerns about Houston’s first black history and culture library.

Timothy O’Brien, a historian with Gregory Library Watch, a group established in January to monitor the activities of the taxpayer-funded public library, said the building at 1300 Victor excludes certain historical information.

Activist Lenwood Johnson said, for example, the library won’t archive stacks of documents he has from a 15-year effort to save Allen Parkway Village housing.

Long-standing tension between community activists and elected officials is stunting the growth of the archival collection, they said.

“It’s all political,” O’Brien said. “You go in that Freedmen’s Town room and the timeline on the three walls stops at 1954.”

The building, once Fourth Ward’s Edgar Gregory School, sat vacant for almost 30 years. Transforming it into a library took years of struggle and cost more than $11 million in federal grants, as well as library and city construction funds.

“Now it’s become this archive where all the people in the neighborhood, African-Americans, are not welcomed,” O’Brien said. “They don’t want to hear the low-income black history because it indicts the African-American politicians,” he said.

At least one historical researcher applauded the library’s efforts.

“Before they were beginning to open, they were getting people to bring their history so they could exhibit it,” said Debra B. Sloan, historical researcher for R.B.H. Yates Museum.

The library does need more visitors and more collections, she added.

“There isn’t enough old history,” she said. “I have tried to get people (in the community) to talk to (the library), but they don’t want to. … Maybe it’s too painful.

“They would be willing to take anything anyone gives them. This is the best we can get right here.”

Library visitors such as Gregory School alumnus Charley Earl, 66, said documents are scanned every day.

“If you bring it, they will scan it and put it in the archives,” he said. “Maybe not on … display, but from what I gather that’s going to change. They’re going to take stuff down and put other stuff up.

“A lot of history was lost,” he said. “It’s hard to get a lot of those old documentations.”

hiba.adi@chron.com

Here’s the link where you can read all the comments:

Houston Chronicle story link.

November 21, 2010 Posted by | Press Conference | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Press Conference Tuesday Sept. 7 @ 10 a.m.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Freedmen’s Town – Gregory Library Watch will hold a press conference at 1204 Victor¬† (next to the Gregory Library) in the historic Fourth Ward.

The press conference concerns Dr. Rhea Lawson, the director of the Houston Public Library system and the investigation of Lawson for the falsification of government documents and much more.

Gregory Library Watch is a non-profit organization of Freedmen Town resident activists dedicated to preserving all of the African American history in Freedmen’s Town.

Download flyer –¬† GLW prescon flyer 9.7.10

September 1, 2010 Posted by | Press Conference, press release, Rhea Lawson | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

   

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