Acres Home Proud

Haley Kaylynn Parks
St. Pius X
12th grade

In the early 1960’s, many African Americans settled into this profound and prolific area of Houston and there stood minds, leaders never knowing the impact they would someday bring to the Acres Homes Community.

By mid-1960’s, land that had once declined with dilapidated buildings, and “shotgun” homes within 964 acres were formed, and by the end of the mid 1970’s flourished and 2000 total acres were purchased. In the confines of a nine-mile radius, stretched from Alabonson Road, West Gulf Bank, Pinemont Drive and North Shepherd resided the most prominent figures and influential laborers of the Acres Homes community.

Treading the path of a Southern largest unincorporated, undeveloped area. The late Sammie Mae Ford described it, “like the country where people helped each other.” A place where leaders put their feet in the sand, grinded and allowed the acreage to flourish. Nicknamed after a rap song depicted as the “#44”-Metro bus line, without curbs, sidewalks or drainage systems with horses, is the place where the work began. Past and present community legends were born and made all the difference in the Acres Homes Community.

Ruby Moseley, also known as the “Mother of Acres Homes” is a community activist for the Acres Homes community as well as the City of Houston. She advocated and played a huge role in creating the Acres Homes Multi-Service Center which stands bright and tall. She was one that played a role in wanting young people to reside in their own community and pursue and education within.

She refused to take no for an answer and advocated for city services. Also known as the Grande Dame of the community because she wanted to improve the community for senior citizens and children. She continued to use her matriarchal skills and was recognized by Mayor Anise Parker for her accomplishments.

As a member and secretary of the Acres Homes Citizens Council, Ms. Mosely strived to make renovations to areas such as Lincoln City Park. She voted many times against allowing the Acres Homes community to be a crime infested area and lobbied against hourly rated “no-tell” motels which she suggested attracted drugs and prostitution in the Acres Homes community. The mother continues to labor in the field continuing to be an activist and legend of Acres Homes.

While it takes a village to raise a child, it takes a community to allow things to happen. Beulah Ann Shepard, also known as the “Mayor of Acres Homes” was a political icon who believed in the power of voting. Although Alice Paul strived to make strides and reformed the 19th amendment, Ms. Shepard went beyond in the vision of equal rights, women’s rights, and voters’ rights. The tireless work that Ms. Shepard put into the civil rights movement of Acres Homes as a whole afforded her the opportunity to receive invitations to the White House from United States Presidents like John F. Kennedy, Lyndon B. Johnson, Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton. Beulah “Mother” Shepard was also a liaison in the community for E.A. “Squatty” Lyons and pushed Sylvester Turner to run for office in the late 1980’s. Ms. Shepard would not be denied the right to vote and paid $1.50 for her first poll tax. The political activist from Plain Dealing, Louisiana cared for people as family and expressed her motherly love. She wanted better for the Acres Homes community and advocated with Mayor Lee Brown to clean abandoned buildings and wee-filled lots as well as provide sidewalks. Her many titles were a replica of her efforts as member of the Acres Home Chamber of Commerce, A.H. Health Council, A.H. Charter Schools, and the Texas Coalition of Black Democrats. Her most prominent award was the “Texas Living Legend” Award, which she most graciously accepted in 1987. Similar to Ms. Mosely, Ms. Shepherd wanted better parks, swimming pools, police stations and roads in her community. Ms. Shephard’s quiet still voice spoke volumes while her love, dedication and devotion to the Acres Homes community made her a beacon and a library was built in her honor.

Mayor Sylvester Turner is truly a living legend in the Acres Homes community. Growing up in the Acres Homes area, he attended Klein schools and there is where his youthful life flourished. The well put together politician, educator and humanitarian wear so many different hats for the City of Houston and Houston, Texas.

He is a present legend with a future that is just beginning. He has a heart for the youth and has ensured that the youth in the Acres Homes community and Houston have the same or similar opportunities as he had to be successful.

Mayor Turner although holding one of the most powerful positions in the state and community, he has a forgiving heart and a perseverance intelligence. He is pressed to prepare and complete a job that affects the community, the state and has become influential. He goes across the aisle to meet those that have different values or who don’t always agree with what is best for all. However, he is truly a man of great integrity and due diligence in his heart. Mayor Turner did not stop in the Acres Homes community. He attended the University of Houston and Harvard University and later became a member of the Texas House of Representatives in 1989 and pushed for practices. He is well known for the rights of the LGBT community, public education, health care, criminal justice views and Hurricane Harvey relief efforts. Mr. Turner has earned and deserves the right to be named present Acres Homes Community legend and the 62nd Mayor of the City of Houston.

Let the church be the church and the people rejoice! What is a community without a church? Pastor, Edwin Davis, one of the pillars of the Acres Homes community, pastors one of the oldest churches in Acres Homes with a congregation that reflects the love within the community. Edwin Davis is a beacon of light at Galilee Missionary Baptist church in the heart of Acres Homes where he has pastored for 31 years. Pastor Davis is an inspiration to all as a pastor, teacher, counselor, administrator, director and musician. He was honored in the Jet magazine as the first African American male chaplain for the Houston Police Department. A true man of God, Pastor Davis also provides opportunities for the youth and families of Acres Homes alongside Precinct 1-Alan Rosen Constable’s Office with community carnivals, fairs, blood drives and Cancer walks.

Trodding the ragged streets, with a book, pen, and idea, a vision and their voice. Although defeats and setbacks alike, their accomplishments stand, while their pictures alongside. However, the past and present shows the legacy and drive they have for the Acres Homes community. As they have lived in the past and made it better for the present, I AM the future. In 2010, I was named Miss Acres Homes and now attend St. Pius X as a senior in the Acres Homes community. While I reflect vaguely on my accomplishments, my future is bright. Jeremiah 29:11 is my vision as I continue my education at Bethune-Cookman University on the shoulders of the Acres Homes legends. I will build on the vision of our fore fathers, press with the knowledge of the Acres Homes legends and stand for Mary McLeod Bethune and will return to Acres Homes as a legend in my own time.

Princess Amaya Pitts
Incarnate Word Academy
10th grade

To whom it may concern,

I was introduced to the idea of writing this essay from my grandmother, Mary Fisher, for the “Shepard-Acres Home Legends” to not only honor but remember the African American Legends of Acres Homes. Though I know nothing about the community of Acres Home, outside of what my family and church members discuss, because the community now is not as it was, but the foundation that was built from these community leaders is still present.

I am, however, familiar with leaders, role models and community legends. The ones who taught me not only how great a place ‘Acres Homes’ is, but also how great being an African American woman can be.

Born on August 21, 2003, I did not meet my great grandparents, but I learned that they bore great community leaders and wonderful children. My grandfather and grandmother are both community leaders who left their imprint on many lives in ‘Acres Homes’.

They would recount the softball teams they once coached and the different leagues around the community the various churches joined together to play the magnificent game of softball. These little softball games would bring most of the community out that started a tradition of softball and baseball coming out of Acres Homes. They narrated how the parks would be full of neighbors having fun and living life in a safe environment.

We see the results of these small games in the Sylvester Turner Park which has many baseball and softball fields. Another community leader I admire is my Aunt Ada Jones. She is continuously meeting with multiple community partners to discuss ideas and concerns for the safety and cleanup needed for what she calls “the best community every”, ‘Acres Homes’. Aunt Ada will talk to anyone and everyone in the neighborhood because of her belief of this being “the best community ever” which helps continue the traditions she started a long time ago.

Starlight Missionary Baptist Church is where I attend church. The Reverend Jason Meachum is my pastor. During my time there, several role models have come by to share a word and a thought including Mayor Turner, Congresswoman Jackson Lee, House Representative Jarvis Johnson and Sister Janice Weaver, the Director of Community Relations with the City of Houston. Sister Janice Weaver is a family friend and fellow church member who has impacted The ‘Acres Home’ community tremendously, as an African American woman and as a true leader. Mayor Sylvester Turner was born and raised in ‘Acres Homes’ a true picture of what it means to be in a community like ‘Acres Homes’ and being involved in the growth of this community. Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee is a strong African American Woman who shows her underlying support for the ‘Acres Homes’ community as well. These people are living black history and I was taught that every day that I live in knowing where I come from, I am also a living source of black history.

I attend Incarnate Word Academy where black history is not emphasized but the conversation of the injustice we see remains. O, say can you see our struggle still remains by the dawn’s early light, another young life lost. What do we as people of color so proudly hail? What broad stripes and bright stars through a fight for survival? Bombs remain bursting in air somewhere, over there as we watch the news media gallantly in fear. O say does the star-spangled banner yet wave, for the freedom for all? I do believe in a powerful statement by Dr. King, “Faith is taking the first step, even when you can’t see the whole staircase”. One day we will be delivered as a people, where freedom will truly ring for all.

In closing, what has happened to a community once so full of love, excitement and genuine concern for its youth and growth of its people? A community where people are now dumping trash on side of the streets has become a norm and our neighborhood parks are empty. What has happened? As Dr. King states, “Where do we go from here, chaos or community?”

“Create in me a clean heart and renew a right spirit within me.
Cast me not away from thy presence;
and take not thy holy spirit from me”. Psalms 51:10-11

Colin Kaepernick, once a star quarterback to now unemployed for the bold stance of kneeling for the injustice of all. As she has stated “something has to change” and “when there is change, I feel the flag will represent what it is supposed to represent and that is freedom for all”. He shows pride in a flag for a country that opposes black people and people of color, so I too kneel on the belief of freedom, liberty and justice for all.

Sincerely,

Amaya Pitts