Houston Newsmakers: Prairie View A&M’s Simmons Center for Race and Justice makes progress in research

Also: Historian studies convict leasing; Spotlight on classic Black literature

Black History Month runs from February 1st through the 28th (KPRC-Pixabay)

It is finishing its first year and already the Ruth J. Simmons Center for Race and Justice at Prairie View A&M University is making great progress researching the roots of racism in this country.

Melanye Price, Ph.D. is the Director of the center and says one goal is to use research and facts about our history to help us work toward a better future. She also refers to herself as a hope evangelist for her students.

“I don’t think we can work with young people, especially young people, who were raised in the era of Trayvon Martin and George Floyd and have seen the things that they have seen and lived through a pandemic, it’s my job to make them hopeful,” she said.

Hear more from Dr. Price about specific immediate goals of the center and the groundbreaking work being done, on this week’s Houston Newsmakers with Khambrel Marshall.

Chains recovered from site of convict leasing site in Sugar Land (KPRC)

Millions of dollars in accumulated wealth based on racist convict leasing programs

Convict leasing was a major source of wealth building in the southern states of America in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Historian Matthew J. Mancini, Ph.D., wrote a book on that topic entitled. “One Dies, Get Another: Convict Leasing in the American South.”

Dr. Mancini says there were occasionally a few whites legally leased by southern states to private landowners but after slavery was abolished he said: “the system was a part of the general system of racial subordination in the South.”

Dr. Mancini is a guest on this week’s program and says convict leasing is the quiet truth behind the growth and prosperity of the City of Sugar Land.

“This idea that Sugar Land was built by Imperial Sugar and the like is misleading at best,” he said. ‘The wealth in this area was based on the backs of convicts.”

See more on this week’s program and on HOUSTON NEWSMAKERS EXTRA here online.

Spotlight on Classic Black Literature: “Black is Eternal”

His name is Vincent Powell. He is the Houston filmmaker and director you are sure to hear more about in the coming years.

His current project in several Houston area school districts is called “Black is Eternal”, a film adaptation of several classic Black poets and writers, using all Houston actors and crew and divided into 28 different renderings for students to study each day of Black History Month.

“It’s just this idea to point out that you can take poems that are old. Poetry, prose, scripture, you can take literature, song and say hey that’s not just limited to this era,” he said. “It is something that is robust, it’s alive. It’s eternal. Black is Eternal. That’s where the name came from.”

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