side bar
Sunday, February 18, 2018


UH’s history of segregation still apparent


The Roy G. Cullen Building, named for Hugh Roy Cullen’s only son, was just one contribution of a total of $11 million the white supremacist made to UH. | Courtesy of Kianat Haider

While UH celebrates its diversity, its history is littered with anti-black racism and segregated city streets, the impact of which still reverberates throughout Houston.

Our University originally opened as Houston Junior Collegea community college funded by Houston Independent School District. Across the street lay the only local option for people of color to receive higher education: the Houston Colored Junior College, now known as Texas Southern University.

As the two colleges grew, they became private four-year universities, both aided in part by the work of Hugh Roy Cullen, a man whose name remains a fixture on campus.

For the white school, the millionaire provided funding for “working men and women and their sons and daughters.” To the black school, he donated 53 acres of land located in the Third Ward, making sure to separate the schools across racial lines.

Do not mistake this for a gesture of goodwill. Cullen was a white supremacist who referred to the New Deal as “The Jew Deal,” according to Jane Mayer’s book “Dark Money.”

He supported southern Dixiecrats’ push for segregation. His funding of each college was, in his eyes, the privatization of the separate but equal doctrine he believed in so much.

By funding the white school and relegating the school for people of color to 53 acres of undeveloped land, Cullen’s message was clear: White people should be supported for success, and black folks were meant to fend for themselves in another part of town.

This trend continued through the fight for racial equality in education, as the Houston Colored Junior College integrated and became the publicly owned Texas State University for Negroes.

The University to become UH, however, still supported in large part by Cullen’s wealth and the wealth of his family, remained a private school, meaning it was not required to integrate and continued to turn away potential students who were deemed too dark. They were sent several blocks away into Third Ward to attend TSU.

Even now, decades after UH integrated and became public, there are visible signs of the division of the past.

We have well-kept grounds, plenty of options to eat at the Student Center and incredible facilities, but if you take the METRO bus two stops in any direction, you will encounter parts of the city that were left underserved throughout the 20th century and to a large extent remain abandoned today.

It’s very clear that UH, while integrated and diverse, serves those who can afford to make it here while profiting from the exploitable labor of the communities around us, who serve as staff in restaurants and groundskeepers around campus.

One can look at the campuswide service projects we put on to see the parasitic relationship we profit and privilege from. For free, the University gets the opportunity to leverage advertising hundreds of thousands of work hours directed at a wide variety of projects in nearby communities.

Of course, the work we do is important and valuable, but the University does not act out of a sense of duty. Instead, it shops the images of our goodwill around to donors to continue the University’s outward growth.

This system fuels further gentrification and redlining, which forces the families who already fight so hard for survival to leave or die trying. In this way, our efforts to improve the lives of people who are struggling are co-opted into programs that make it more expensive to live in some of the most run-down portions of the city.

By trying to solve the symptoms of the problem, it allows us to pat ourselves on the back and ignore the long-term implications of our history. By employing people from the communities we impact and hosting the occasional service event, we permit ourselves to be complicit in the ongoing violence we benefit from.

If we are to really try to make a change, we need to abandon the desire to keep Third Ward alive for our own ends and resolve the conditions that allow for the abuse of Third Ward in the first place. We should prioritize improvements to the funding for public services instead of individual services.

Not only will this help to improve the communities from the ground up, but it can help to make the need for individual-level service unnecessary.

Our history should not damn us to continue the violence endorsed by our predecessors. It should fuel our desires to move forward and improve the status quo. We have a responsibility to fix the mistakes that have led us to the conditions that we subject others to.

I want to encourage those of you who are interested to not simply look for ways to give superficial service, but to fundamentally change the lives of those in need. We need to focus on teaching people to fish rather than simply feeding them.

Without an approach that emphasizes long-term sustainability, we will continue to simply set Third Ward for continued failure. No longer can we idly stand by as we watch our University use the poverty nearby as fuel. We have to do something more.

Staff writer Cameron Leavitt is a communications freshman. He can be reached at [email protected]

Tags: , , , ,

  • Mohammed bin Zayed Jones

    His first time out, and young Cammie Leavitt vomits his anality … opening old wounds long forgotten and stoking the flames of racism one again, with his ever pressing concern for the nearby what was it? … “underserved” … parts of the city surrounding our great institution of socialist learning.

    What ever happened to “serve yourself” ???

    For over fifty years now … government has taken the responsibility of the black father out of the equation. Some people might argue that, but essentially the Black fatherhood for the most part … has been replaced with a welfare check, and single black women after 1 or more children, continue to be nothing more than oral and pudendum receptacles for an encounters reward of conception juice.

    Was does a tall, skinny, bow-tie wearing, pimple-faced, nerd glass wearing kid; know of the Third Ward or OST/South Union? Five will get you Ten … absolutely nothing, except what he learned from some speaker or a leftist prof. Heck Cameron, I wouldn’t doubt your Mother probably cut your meat until you were fifteen.

    I encourage you Cammy, if you want to help these people … get to know them. Camp out a night in MacGregor Park, take a walk down Scott Street at midnight. Quit hiding behind a keyboard, blaming anything but the obvious in your piece, and get your hands dirty, and write the real truth.

    If you look at the surrounding areas in general young Cammie … decades and decades of area residents being taught “Democrats will take care of me” … have yielded a result of blight that has now attracted a new crop of young gentrifying socialists that are lot by lot encroaching on the savanna of the native population.

    Who’s fault is that? It’s definitely not mine. I preach everyday to anyone who will listen to constantly improve their lives, get their credentials, and get out there and bust their tails everyday to make the best circumstance for themselves. Now is that sentiment echoed by local White or Black Democrat leaders? No, a most definite no. Because what does a self-made, independent person, confident in their abilities need of the Democrat Party? Absolutely nothing. And if Democrats are forced to concede offerings of rhetoric pointing to any semblance of self-improvement amongst their Third Ward constituents, the effort is only half-hearted and never taken seriously.

    African Americans have been treated with kid-gloves for decades and decades, and it shows. Blacks are a large part of the Dependency Class that Democrats rely on for their votes decade after decade. In effect, African Americans are the donkey that always has the carrot dangled in front of it, but is never allowed to feast. Unfortunately, Blacks for the most part, are never encouraged to reach for the carrot. Those that do achieve the goal … like Justice Thomas or Secretary Rice .. they are hounded for achieving their heights without being blessed by the Black White Democrat hierarchy.

    And where do you get off young Camy writing “we need to focus on teaching people to fish rather than simply feeding them.” How shallow of you. Easy for you to say, having been given everything your whole life.

    Yes, Cameron, you march into UH blaming the whole university for the ills of the Ward, saying we use the neighborhoods as tinder for the UH firebox. Well, I’m not to blame. The Cullen’s are not blame. And who were the Dixiecrats? … They were still Democrats, right up to Bull Connor and George Wallace.

    I ask you Camy? When are you going to blame the Third Ward residents themselves for their misfortune? They have the same freedoms as you and I. Why didn’t they improve their own circumstance despite being held back by the Democrats Man, or the University.

    To solve the problem young Cammie, you first need to get rid of the Democrat mentality that they need a permanent underclass as their voter base. They’ve written off the White working-class vote. Blacks have been taken advantage of by the Socialist White Democrat for so long, that they don’t ask questions of “why haven’t we seen the promised land.” And they should ask. Heck, Moses’ Israelites’ only wandered around for 40 years … and it’s been over fifty years for the Wards, and rarely does anyone see inviting “well-kept grounds” that offer a sense of security and safety.

    No doubt on your way back to Sugarland each time at night, you young Cammy drive a little faster down the streets praying that the light does not turn Red. And if you are forced to stop, you no doubt re-lock your doors, and constantly check the mirrors and blind-spots for any possible person approaching, seeing as you are most definitely … an easy mark.

  • David

    Don’t mind the blow hard zayed who regularly tries to act smart. He isn’t.

    • Mohammed bin Zayed Jones

      David … you know you can’t respond to me with more than a short sentence.

    • David

      Cameron. Point taken as you see the response.

  • Will Comeaux

    As UH becomes “less white”, I’m sure the white alumni base will become less enthusiastic and attached to their alma mater …. hello racists. I heard a white UH alumnus once say that he will never send his daughter there b/c UH has become to “ghetto” …. that’s code speak for too diverse. But actually academically, aesthetically, and endowment wise, the school is the strongest it’s ever been. But when you’re racist (or racist in denial) whiteness is next to godliness. But he couldn’t be more wrong … who was responsible for the innocent lynchings of thousands of black people in the 19th and 20th century? who was responsible for the biggest massacre in modern history? what about the collapse of one of the most powerful company in Houston or the World (Enron)? WHITE PEOPLE

Back to Top ↑
  • Sign up for our Email Edition

  • Polls

    How was your first week of classes?

    View Results

    Loading ... Loading ...
  • Recent articles

  • Special Sections