Gregory Library Watch

Preserving working class Black history

This is what Ethnic Cleansing looks like

The City of Houston spent over $410,000 taking some houses right next to the African American Library at Gregory. Of course the houses are from the 1930s and made up some of the 550 contributing structures when the neighborhood was listed on the National Register of Historic places back in 1985. (see: Nat’l Register listing) Using eminent domain, the city pushed out two African American families and one Latino family. See the document showing  that right here:

The City could be earning over $1,400 a month in rents from these properties, but instead of fixing up the houses, they’ve left them deteriorate, making them an eyesore:

In fact Dr. Rhea Lawson:

the director of the Houston Public Library who signed the document to take the houses, is responsible for destroying more than one African American family’s life. Here’s the press conference from when the last family got kicked out in December 2009 (note the Gregory Library in the background):

October 25, 2010 Posted by | ethnic cleansing, taxpayer waste | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Mayor Parker responds to our letter

Here’s Mayor Parker’s email to us which we just received Monday morning;

from    COH – Mayor <mayor@cityofhouston.net>
to    Gregory Library Watch <gregorylibrarywatch@gmail.com>
date    Mon, Mar 1, 2010 at 9:18 AM
subject    RE: Community denied access to African American Library @ Gregory School

Dear Mr. O’Brien,

Thank you for your letter of February 4, 2010, concerning the African
American Library at the Gregory School.  I appreciate your desire to assist
in making the African American Library at the Gregory School the success we
all envision.

You have suggested various uses for the facility, including after school
programming and computer labs for the use of the community.  The Gregory
School is designed as a research library and not a neighborhood or community
library.  We do not have the resources to provide the type of programming
that you have suggested at this location.  However, the Library Department’s
Mobile Computer Lab has been located at the Gregory School site for two days
per week for several weeks for use by the community.  So far, it has been
lightly used.  You may wish to alert your neighbors to the availability of
this resource.  If you have ideas for publicizing the Mobile Lab, please let
us know.  We evaluate the best locations for the Mobile Computer Labs on an
ongoing basis. We would also like to point out that the Central Library
located at 500 McKinney, less than 2 miles from Gregory, provides most of
the services that you are requesting.

While we have staff members who are engaged in grant writing for the City
and cannot use your assistance in that area, we are very much interested in
any help you wish to offer toward enhancing and maximizing donations of
materials for the collection at the Gregory School.  We are anxious for the
community to embrace the research mission of the library and assist in
building the collection.  If you are interested in volunteering in our
outreach efforts to encourage community members to donate historical
documents for the Gregory School collection, we certainly welcome your
assistance.   Please go to the Library Department’s website and click on
Volunteer Opportunities, or call HPL Volunteer Services at (832) 393-1481,
so that we can get you started.

Thank you again for your interest in the Houston Public Library’s African
American Library at the Gregory School.

Sincerely,

Mayor Annise D. Parker

You can read our letter right here letter-to-mayor-2-4-10-1

March 3, 2010 Posted by | Mayor Parker | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Welcome to Gregory Library Watch

This blog is to monitor the activities of the African American Library at Gregory School which is located in the historic Freedmen’s Town area of Houston, Texas.

According to the Gregory Library, their mission is  “To serve as a repository for use by historians, researchers, and the general public.”

Unfortunately the library offers very little for the public besides a nice diversion for an hour or so to peruse their galleries. It will take years, if not decades, to build a collection of African American archives. In the meantime the Gregory Library and our tax dollars could serve the community. Gregory does not have a computer room for people to use to search for jobs or for children to do homework. They do not have any programs like most libraries do. They have lots of empty space and two floors but nothing for any of the low income or other residents that live in the immediate vicinity of the library.

Even for the researcher, whether it is someone with a doctorate in African American history, or a grade school student doing a history project, there is very little material to work with. Currently the library only houses fourteen (14) archival collections. Here is the complete list. These archival collections only add up to 11 linear feet or less than 6 full boxes of documents. The library also has done a few oral histories and made them available on their website. The link on the Gregory library website shows only 22 oral histories, eight (8) which were already owned by the Houston Public Library.

We are  a group of concerned activists living in Freedmen’s Town. Our mission is to ensure that all of the history of African Americans in the City of Houston, but particularly in the Freedmen’s Town Historic District, is represented in the Gregory Library.

January 9, 2010 Posted by | welcome | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

   

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