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Houston Breakthrough, Vol. 1, No. 9, November 1976
Page 7
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Houston Breakthrough, Vol. 1, No. 9, November 1976 - Page 7. November 1976. Special Collections, University of Houston Libraries. University of Houston Digital Library. Web. April 13, 2021. https://digital.lib.uh.edu/collection/feminist/item/199/show/185.

Disclaimer: This is a general citation for reference purposes. Please consult the most recent edition of your style manual for the proper formatting of the type of source you are citing. If the date given in the citation does not match the date on the digital item, use the more accurate date below the digital item.

(November 1976). Houston Breakthrough, Vol. 1, No. 9, November 1976 - Page 7. Houston and Texas Feminist and Lesbian Newsletters. Special Collections, University of Houston Libraries. Retrieved from https://digital.lib.uh.edu/collection/feminist/item/199/show/185

Disclaimer: This is a general citation for reference purposes. Please consult the most recent edition of your style manual for the proper formatting of the type of source you are citing. If the date given in the citation does not match the date on the digital item, use the more accurate date below the digital item.

Houston Breakthrough, Vol. 1, No. 9, November 1976 - Page 7, November 1976, Houston and Texas Feminist and Lesbian Newsletters, Special Collections, University of Houston Libraries, accessed April 13, 2021, https://digital.lib.uh.edu/collection/feminist/item/199/show/185.

Disclaimer: This is a general citation for reference purposes. Please consult the most recent edition of your style manual for the proper formatting of the type of source you are citing. If the date given in the citation does not match the date on the digital item, use the more accurate date below the digital item.

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Title Houston Breakthrough, Vol. 1, No. 9, November 1976
Publisher Breakthrough Publishing Co.
Date November 1976
Subject.Topical (LCSH)
  • Women
  • Periodicals
  • Feminism--United States--Periodicals
  • Newsletters
Subject.Geographic (TGN)
  • Houston, Texas
Genre (AAT)
  • periodicals
Language English
Type (DCMI)
  • Text
  • Image
Original Item Location HQ1101 .B74
Original Item URL http://library.uh.edu/record=b2332724~S11
Digital Collection Houston and Texas Feminist and Lesbian Newsletters
Digital Collection URL http://digital.lib.uh.edu/collection/feminist
Repository Special Collections, University of Houston Libraries
Repository URL http://info.lib.uh.edu/about/campus-libraries-collections/special-collections
Use and Reproduction Educational use only, no other permissions given. Copyright to this resource is held by the content creator, author, artist or other entity, and is provided here for educational purposes only. It may not be reproduced or distributed in any format without written permission of the copyright owner. For more information please see UH Digital Library Fair Use policy on the UH Digital Library About page.
File Name index.cpd
Item Description
Title Page 7
Format (IMT)
  • image/jpeg
File Name femin_201109_522g.jpg
Transcript public interest vs. private interest The fate of Fourth Ward Annabelle "Mama" Fontenot, born and raised in the Fourth Ward, points to the area where she attended Colored High School in the 20's. It was the only high school in Houston where Blacks were admitted. In the background, the Houston skyline gets closer to the Fourth Ward with each new urban renewal project. Residents fear displacement. Mama Fontenot says "they're not moving buildings, they're uprooting people. I want the city officials to have that on their conscience. And," she adds, "I want Blacks to remember that when they vote for these public servants." Fontenot says she wants the Mayor to know that the Fourth Ward area is not all a slum. Homes here are modest but most are well cared for (40% of homeowners are Black). Mama says that even "shotgun shacks" can be pleasant to live in if taken care of. She feels that the area along West Dallas has been allowed to deteriorate and become an "eye sore" so that special interest groups could blot out the predominantly Black area. By Jo Ann Vallie Rush She calls herself "an advocate for all poor people," "a champion of the grass roots" and "a people lover." But to people who know her, she's Annabelle "Mama" Fontenot. Indeed, Mama is a moving force behind the fight to save Fourth Ward from an almost certain death. It's being speculated that a move is underway by special interest groups to blot out the predominately black area, to make way for high-rise buildings and businesses that would be an extension of downtown Houston. Many Blacks don't want to see this happen; Mama Fontenot is one of them. She says she first championed the Fourth Ward cause when she heard Mayor Hofheinz say that the area was not worth upgrading. Outraged at the statement, Mama marched down to City Hall the following Wednesday and gave the mayor a piece of her mind. Fontenot says the Fourth Ward dilemma is not an isolated case, that poor inner city areas all across the country are being quietly phased out to make way for urban development and renewal. But Mama says she's not going to take what's happening lying down. "Fourth Ward is dear to my heart because that's where I was born and reared." She says too many people forget their roots and where they came from. Talking about that small pocket of poverty, Fontenot visualizes how the first ex- slaves and their families must have settled in the area. She says that as the granddaddy of all the wards in Houston, Fourth Ward has strong historical significance. Fontenot says it was Blacks who first settled the area and first owned the land, no doubt unaware that the area would be so much in demand, due to its closeness to the central business district of downtown Houston. Mama says when she was a little girl, Fourth Ward encompassed all of what is today the Allen Parkway, all the way to the area where the Shamrock Hilton Hotel now stands. Then the majority of the grassy, undeveloped land was owned by Blacks. Today, Fourth Ward encompasses Allen Parkway and the immediate surrounding areas and, according to Mama, is now 60% owned by white landlords and 40% owned by Black homeowners. Fontenot believes that more often than not, Black property owners were persuaded to sell by slick- talking developers who gave them less than their money's worth. Since white landlords have taken over the area, the homes have been allowed to crumble and local banks have red-lined the area. Only the poorest of the poor reside in Fourth Ward today. Some say that those who are championing the Fourth Ward cause are fighting a losing battle against inevitable progress. Fourth Ward residents, however, see nothing progressive about being pushed from one poor area of the city to another, to be crammed once more into dismal living quarters. Fontenot is of the opinion that poor areas of the city should be upgraded and not neglected. She says that with the aid of citizens in Fourth Ward, ministers, concerned state representatives and the support of city officials, Fourth Ward can develop once more into a striving community. And Mama urges Black Fourth Ward tenants to channel all their energies toward getting landlords to upgrade the homes they're renting out. Some hope for upgrading Fourth Ward lies in the community development program, but it seems to many as though the program has been dragging its feet. The program is supposed to help upgrade homes of poverty-level senior citizens and low-income families by providing home improvement grants and loans. So far, however, it has been besieged with problems which have slowed its progress. Mama Fontenot attributes her activism in the community to her Christian background. Her first love is churchwork, but she's also actively involved in the League of Women Voters, Women in Action and Citizens United for the Rehabilitation of Errants. And if that isn't enough, Mama is also a volunteer lobbyist in Austin. Mama says she will never grow too old to relinquish her community involvement. She says old folks can contribute so much to the young generation "that they don't need to take a seat in a rocking chair and dip snuff once they reach sixty." Concerning her immediate task of saving Fourth Ward from a seemingly inevitable death, Fontenot says she's going to muster up city-wide support for the cause. Mama is planning more trips to city hall on the matter and she's going to continue to pray. She says she has faith in God that someone will hear her prayers and help. What will happen to Fourth Ward no one knows. But certainly its fate depends upon the concern and compassion of people like Mama Fontenot and the attitudes of our elected city officials. Mildred Spencer, lifelong Fourth Ward resident, said she loves the sense of community in the Ward. Now handicapped, she only has to walk a short distance to her church, shops and neighbors. photos by Marilyn Jones Housing Discri initiation Is Illegal UNEMPLOYED? UNDEREMPLOYED? Read YOUR GUIDE TO GETTING A JOB IN HOUSTON Available at bookstores & newsstands or from BAE Corporation P.O. Box 35621 Houston 77035 $3.10 (tax incl.) Call: 222-5411 City of Houston Fair Housing Division November 1976 llllllllllllllllllllllllllllll Houston Breakthrough Page 7