Words by: Brittany Lopez
Photography by: Yuli Gonzalez
Beyond the skyline: History hidden in plain sight.
In celebration of Black History Month, Premium Goods collaborated with Adidas to arrange an educational field trip for 25 Westbury High School scholars. How else to leave a resonating impression than to take them to a relatable location within their proximity?
In 1865 newly freed slaves began to settle just south of Buffalo Bayou, where they constructed their community, Freedmen's Town. By creating accessibility to sho gun style houses, hospitals, and entertainment, this thriving black community provided a haven. Today more than half of the town has been remodeled and overshadowed by I-45 and tall new buildings, hiding the area and the history attached to it. An uproar to preserve the town began when a construction worker destroyed part of the brick road unknowing of the symbol it upholds. Charonda Johnson is a 5th generation resident and an ongoing activist to keep Freedmen's alive. Although fewer than ten buildings of the original community remain, the residents' fight and sense of urgency compensated with a victory when the city council acknowledged it as Houston's First Heritage District.
"The newly emancipated founders outsourced, formed, and laid the red clay bricks," Charonda says "it's beyond the materialistic value."
The scholars and PG staff eagerly walked through the town to understand more about the city's past. The tour began at The African American Library at the Gregory School, the first public school for freed black children in Houston. Zion Escobar, executive director of the Houston Freedmen's town Conservancy led the tour with Charonda. The excursion allows for an experience of public art and an opportunity to grasp a story and narrative by sightseeing the historic homes, hospitals, and Bethel Church. Shortly after the tour ended, we introduced Jarrod Rector, the owner of Stuff'd Wings establishing the importance of local Black-Owned businesses. Ending the day at Premiumgoods, the students got an opportunity to select a pair of Adidas footwear along with a goodie bag to take home.
To honor our ongoing commitment, we have released a tote and tee. 100% of the proceeds will donate to Houston Freedmen's Town Conservancy. If you want to make a change or learn more about this organization visit houstonfreedmenstown.org