OUR FAVORITE SITES
A Virtual Guide to Black Houston, is an extension of The New Red Book, and it allows for you to experience Houston from anywhere in the world! This project is supported in part by the Houston Arts Alliance and the Houston Mayor’s Office of Cultural Affairs’ Let Creativity Happen Grant.
Community Artists’ Collective
Founded in 1987 by Dr. Sarah Trotty, Barry Barnes, Dr. Willie Trotty, Michelle Barnes, and Lazette Jackson, Community Artists’ Collective was created to make the arts more accessible to children and adults. Since its founding, the Collective, as it’s affectionately called, has provided creative arts experiences for children and adults through its programs in education, exhibition, community development, and entrepreneurship. Some of the hallmarks of these programs are the Jubilee Quilting Circle and emerging artist exhibitions, which both highlight the visual arts practices of the African Diaspora.
A key pillar of the work being done by The Collective is collaboration, rather than competition. The organization has worked with SHAPE Community Center (see SHAPE Community Center), Project Row Houses (see Project Row Houses), and other organizations and individuals to bring arts programming to the city.
Visitors are invited to participate in programming such as workshops and exhibits, either as a viewer or exhibiting artist. Ultimately, participation in The Collective’s programming emboldens the African American creative tradition.
4101 San Jacinto Street Suite 116, Houston, Texas, 77004
The DeLUXE Theater
The New Red Book, written by Sawari Tours CEO and Lead Tour Guide Lindsay Gary, is a guidebook of 50 of Houston’s Black historical and cultural sites. It is a unique exploration of African American art, culture, and history, highlighting the many, often little-known, sites that have been built and sustained by Black Houstonians since the city’s earliest years. The guide is a treasure for both locals and tourists as it takes them on a rich and compelling journey.
The famous DeLUXE Theater opened in 1941 as a movie theater, serving the Fifth Ward's Black community during the Jim Crow era. The famous Club Matinee, dubbed the “Cotton Club of the South,” was once located across the street, along the bustling Lyons Avenue.
Like many Black-owned businesses, DeLUXE suffered major economic loss during integration, and unfortunately shut its doors after a brief period as an art gallery. Today, after major renovations, the theater is under the operation of the City of Houston and managed by the Fifth Ward Community Redevelopment Corporation. Texas Southern University has worked with these organizations to successfully revitalize and repurpose the theater.
It is home to “Malcolm Marco Malcolm Marco,” a famed mural painted by artist Bert Samples (see Project Row Houses). Under the direction of Harrison Guy, it is now used as a performance and events space, and also offers educational and community workshops and programming.
3303 Lyons Avenue, Houston, Texas 77020
Houston This Is It Soul Food
Originally located in Houston’s historic Freedmen’s Town the iconic Houston This Is It Soul Food is now located in another historic area, the Third Ward. The restaurant was founded in 1959, by wife and husband team Mattie and Frank Jones. Since then, it has become a treasured part of Houston’s restaurant scene. In fact, thanks to their delicious preparation of African American cuisine, it is the oldest soul food restaurant in the city.
The original owners worked hard to provide a need to their community and today, the current owners are doing the same. The restaurant is currently being operated by the fourth generation of the Jones family, who’ve maintained the legacy of the restaurant’s recipes and reputation, and worked diligently to grow the business to new heights. With a legacy such as this, Houston This Is It Soul Food is much more than a restaurant, it is a cultural and historical cornerstone.
2712 Blodgett Street, Houston, Texas 77004
Project Row Houses
Project Row Houses (PRH) was founded in 1993 by seven Black artists, many of whom were mentored by John Biggers and Deloyd T. Parker (see SHAPE Community Center). Their ultimate goal as artists and activists was to transform the northern Third Ward’s shotgun houses into something positive for the community. These shotgun houses, also known as row houses, had become ridden with crime and neglect. These artists saw an opportunity to transform them into art installation spaces with the goal of revitalizing the neighborhood and inspiring the community with social action. The group was inspired by John Biggers’ artistic works and research which highlighted the South’s historical row house architecture as a continuity of African cultural architecture. They also sought to combat the gentrification and drive-by shootings that were taking place in the neighborhood.
For nearly 30 years, the organization's artist rounds have continued to highlight African American artists and themes impacting their communities. As an incubator space, businesses such as All Real Radio Crumbville, Ujima Residents Resource House, Kindred Stories have supported the Third Ward community. Project Row Houses has also been instrumental in restoring historic buildings such as El Dorado Ballroom and Delia’s Lounge.
Even with the numerous aforementioned programs, the host of programming and the depth of Project Row Houses’ continued impact cannot be encapsulated. The mission of the founders has not only been achieved, but continues to be achieved and addressed by the organization under the leadership of Executive Director Eureka Gilkey and its dedicated staff and board.
2521 Holman St, Houston, TX 77004