For years, I have been vilified by some because I have continued to express my love for the Settlement Community without reservation. I can emphatically proclaim that I have no reservation regarding anything that I have said about this issue.
The National AFL-CIO sponsored the national Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s Civil and Human Rights Conference in Houston. I was honored to be in attendance, as I heard speakers Dr. William Barber, congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee, and Mayor Sylvester Turner. I listened, intently, and my heart was filled with gratitude for the Settlement, which was settled by four ex-slaves, who had a vision.
These visionaries raised their families as the Settlement continued to grow. The industrial complex began to be constructed, and others began to settle here because of their desire for freedom. Texas City and La Marque grew because people were able to work here in the community. The script has changed, as other individuals, who do not live within the community work here, pay taxes on their home front and return there. That means that individuals who live in the Texas City and La Marque communities are left to seek employment in other areas. For as long as jobs were here, this community continued to thrive and prosper.
Lincoln High School produced young men and women who became productive citizens nationwide. The Lincoln High School students heard and took advantage of the words and actions of Dr. King, and demanded change in the segregated school system. During the 1964-65 school years, Lincoln students took to the streets for equality and civil rights. As a consequence, in 1965-66, the first African-American students were admitted to the La Marque public white schools. History was made at Lincoln High when, for the first time, a white principal was installed. The transitions were not without problems, but everyone involved, African-Americans and whites were determined to work together for a better future for all.
As I watch the rise of so much division today, I can only hope that there will be that same type of attitude to turn this situation around. During the ‘60s, we had our people like Governor George Wallace, but we also had President Lyndon B. Johnson. We had an array of false prophets, but we also had Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. We need that same kind of leadership from our leaders. For all rights and purposes, we have a leader who has proved that he is a dedicated divider — no matter the issue.
However, in the Settlement, we continue to strive to keep a sense of community unity. The West End Community Organization, the Texas City and La Marque police departments continue to engage in monthly meetings in which we discuss issues and strengthen relationships with our minority communities. The district attorney and sheriff have also taken part in the meetings.
Our school districts are now one and, together, we are moving forward. We must, because, “United We Stand.”