As a former (and probably future) resident of Third Ward, I am unfazed by the renaming of Dowling Street to Patronization…ahem…Emancipation Avenue.

Author’s note: It has been brought to my attention that the signs were paid for by a committee dedicated to bettering Third Ward (essentially, the mayor’s office working for a special interest group). However, it is now MORE upsetting that such a committee would be so out of tune with what the community actually NEEDS.

Dear City of Houston and Reconstruction Rabble Rousers,

Thanks, I guess, for this small gesture. I suppose you think that makes up for the condition of the neighborhood? Sorry to burst your bubble, but it does not.

In my not-so-humble opinion, that name change is a giant waste of time and money. Too little too late. You should have used that money to fix the things that are wrong in that neighborhood, not give people a consolation prize for treating them like crap still, or making the #ffffff people we see holding up cameras to vacant lots more comfy. Make no mistake, we are not fooled: The stuff you’re putting up in Third Ward isn’t for the people who live there now – it’s for the people you want to move there.

We’ve been getting the picture for years now: The giant buildings that popped up during the redo of Emancipation Park took away residents’ view of the skyline, thus lowering their property value, which was heartbreaking to people who have lived there forever. Even on the other side of the park those expensive condos overshadow the smaller homes on the same street, taking away their view and their sunlight. The message is clear: We do what we want in your neighborhood.

It wasn’t until recently when these new storeowners (many of whom did not even grow up in Third Ward and STILL don’t live there) came into the neighborhood that people started complaining about the street name and how much it was a “hurtful reminder of Houston’s history with the Confederacy” (which, I mean, Houston….we gonna rename the city, too?). Meanwhile, they failed to mention the gentrification that is a long-standing and CURRENT problem. Signs that read, “Third Ward is our home and it is not for sale!” started popping up when I was in high school – a decade ago. Where were the vigilantes who wanted to write to the mayor when residents who were 100+ years old were being forced out of the homes they were BORN in in the name of eminent domain? Somewhere worried about street signs, I suppose.

And please, save your weak excuse about you wanting the name of the street to “match” the name of the park. I honestly cannot believe, in the words of my mother, that you “fixed your mouth to tell that lie.” Since when did the City of Houston make any concessions on the part of aesthetics when some huge event wasn’t considering our city as a locale? Did the Super Bowl committee come here and make remarks about how our street names didn’t match our park names? Olympics? Hennypalooza?

Fact of the matter: people are gonna change everything and assuage those who feel “hurt” by confederate names (which, again, can we talk about the name of the city!?), but those same people are still gonna force these old people out of their homes claiming “eminent domain” and, some of the newer residents of different ethnicities will STILL be racist to people living there. And it’s a giant slap in the face that we’re all of a sudden finding money to “fix” roads and parks now that people have realized Third Ward is ten minutes away from everything important.

If you’re hardpressed for ideas on how you could have better spent your time and money, here are some ideas:

  1. Fix the actual pavement on that SAME street.
  2. Fix Holman Street.
  3. Restore homes and businesses for older residents instead of forcing them out and selling them.
  4. Redo the Cuney Homes and provide educational/recreational programs for the people who live there.
  5. Expand the book selection/services offered at Smith Neighborhood Library.
  6. Add more after-school programs and features to Third Ward schools.
  7. Repurpose abandoned buildings and houses.
  8. Clean up graffiti and trash at storefronts.
  9. Add a police patrol or neighborhood watch (since it’s such a “bad” neighborhood).
  10. Make Frenchy’s a fully-functioning five-star restaurant, as it deserves to be (and already lowkey is).

I have provided ideas. It’s a wonder that no one presented these to you, instead. Perhaps the new residents would feel more comfortable if you started with these changes.


Hope R. Carter

Trey Ward, Souf Sia 4 Lia