Where do we draw the line? A development company is seeking to build on a site the company owns in the Heights community adjacent to Olivewood Cemetery, which is Houston’s oldest incorporated African American cemetery. It was established ten years after emancipation in 1875. According to Houston Public Media (HPM), there’s an estimated 4,000 Black Houstonians buried there, but there’s only a handful of graves that are marked. It was also noted that approximately 800 of the people there are former slaves.
HPM said, “The land next to Olivewood is owned by development company Maximo Capital. There, the company intends to construct a center for its client, Sphere, a soccer-inspired fitness concept founded by former Houston Dynamo player, Michael Chabala.” The architect who is working with Maximo says there will be an archeologist to come and see what’s underneath.
The concern is that people in the community and those who are familiar with Olivewood confidently claim that under Maximo’s property there are children’s remains due to photos from the 1940’s. This means that there could potentially be remains of children or other individuals buried underneath the property they want to develop. I hope the company sticks to their word and looks at what could potentially lie underneath before they begin construction. We must let the dead rest in peace, and if there are remains found, then that property should be left untouched. It is only right for the dead and their family members. It’s just simply the right thing to do.
Community members are also concerned with flooding issues due to the increase in construction. This seems to be a problem around Houston and surrounding areas as companies and corporations are consistently building and tearing down pieces of land like it’s nothing. Meanwhile, I have seen many buildings that have been deserted and left to rot that could possibly be used for something else.
Whatever happens with this company, I hope that they respect the dead and respect the past.