By: N.L. Preston
HOUSTON – Georgia Provost was born in Lafayette, Louisiana and came to Houston in 1959 to attend Texas Southern University. She’s been a Houston resident mainly ever since. She currently owns a photography studio, is a former educator at TSU and the Houston Independent School District and is on countless boards for various community organizations. Anyone who knows her, knows she is smart, determined and not afraid to speak her mind. In true fashion, she held no punches when speaking to African-American News&Issues about the political climate of today and lack of leadership, what we need to do for our children’s futures and how we, as Black people, can get through this global pandemic while strengthening and building our communities.
“We have some really tough issues that nobody wants to use common sense and critical thinking about,” Provost said as she began to lay out what seems so easy for many to understand.
Yet, with simple solutions right in front of us, why are we being held back?
“Right now, we as Black people need to get us an agenda and we need to discuss all of these disparities that we have in the Black community; education, healthcare and clinics, employment, parks for the youth, food, housing, economic development and the list goes on and on,” Provost said. “If everyone can grab a plate and bring something to the table, then we can do some things. We are lacking leadership in the city of Houston, and if we have no agenda, what are we going to do today or tomorrow?”
Provost took us down memory lane of a past Houston and Harris County bustling with Black excellence and pride.
“Over 50 plus years ago when we were segregated, we as Black people did not have to leave out of Fifth Ward, Third Ward or Acres Home. We had everything we needed. Did you know that Acres Home even had its own bus service? The doctors and the lawyers, all the professional people, lived in the community and the students didn’t have to worry about after school jobs or summer jobs, because all they had to do was knock on the doors of people who lived in their communities who could help them,” she said. “But after we decided to buy into integration, that was a disaster for us, because it removed many of our leaders from our communities.”
It’s not that Provost wanted Blacks to remain segregated, she spoke about what it took away from us, things which have not been replaced to this day.
So how do we regain our “independence” and start building a better future? We asked Provost to outline some “immediate action” items, also speaking about other issues we are fighting through.
Q: The importance of voting
A: Most Black folks don’t realize this, but when they get ready to distribute money and they look at our community and see we didn’t vote, we don’t get any money. You must vote to have a voice.
Q: The importance of the Census
A: Just like voting, the Census is very important. If we don’t take the Census, we won’t get the money we need in our communities. We need more Black elected officials coming out and telling us the importance of the Census.
Q: In the middle of this COVID-19/ Coronavirus global pandemic, do you think it is safe for children to return to school campuses this fall?
A: Hell no!
Q: Do you think we moved too fast with ‘Reopening Texas’?
A: No. The problem is that they did not enforce the guidelines regarding social distancing and the masks order the way they should have.
Q: Should Mayor Sylvester Turner and County Judge Lina Hidalgo shut down Houston and Harris County so we can try again to flatten the curve?
A: No. Just enforce rules and get the police involved if need be. Black and Brown people need to pay attention. I go to a lot of places in our neighborhoods, like on Almeda, and I see people lined up outside certain restaurants with no masks on and no social distancing! What, are they not reading the paper or looking at the news? Wear masks, social distance and don’t go to places with large crowds.
Q: What do you say to those who want to congregate in churches?
A: Going to church every day is not going to make you go to Heaven. It’s the way you live your life. The same rules that apply to the businesses are the same rules you would have to use for the churches. Use common sense and protect yourself and your families. You can still worship through the online services.
Q: What are your TOP 3 items that should be on the Black Agenda?
A: EDUCATION – What we need to focus on is Black students learning how to read and write properly when they are young; by the time they get to the 3rd and 4th grade. We are not even teaching these kids critical thinking anymore and that’s a problem. You have kids graduating from high school and going to college and can barely read or write! The parents need to get involved more with their kids. In my household, we have more books than they have in the library. My son saw his father and mother read, and he did the same thing. Children emulate their parents. If you don’t teach them properly, you could be doing nothing more than preparing them for the prison pipeline.
ECONOMICS – Get more Black people to go into business and get more Black people to support them. Economic development is not in any of our communities. We need to teach these kids about entrepreneurship. They teach our kids in school how to get a job and go work for the “massah” instead of teaching these kids how to open up a business. In Louisiana, where I am from, we call money “lajan.” Money is made for three things; to save, to give and to invest.
STRENGTHEN THE BLACK FAMILY – Keep your family together. And Black women need to stop hollering that they “don’t need a man!” You carried a boy for 9 months, you raised him for 18 years, then you throw him out and not speak up for him? Until Black women start putting Black men on a pedestal, they will always get their behinds kicked.
Provost is on a mission to make sure the Black community is well-represented and will not stop until we get where we need to be.
“I’m going to tell you a little secret,” she said. “I like a good fight, and if I don’t see one, I’m going to start one!”
Provost is demanding that leaders stand up and for Blacks to pay more attention.