Houston African-American / Black History Tours
Houston Historical Tours offers 7 different African-American tours. Each is 6 hours. They normally begin at 9:00 AM and end at 3:00 PM. Each includes a stop for lunch, normally at a traditional African-American restaurant of barbecue, soul, Creole, or some such food. Houston had political subdivisions called wards from 1837 to 1916. Most of present-day Houston did not exist at the time of the wards. They were divided along the intersection of Main Street and Congress Street in downtown Houston and only went as far north as Buffalo Bayou. The First and Second Wards were only about 3 blocks deep (Commerce Street and Franklin Street), from Buffalo Bayou to Congress Street. The Third and Fourth Wards went on endlessly. Northwest Houston was 1st Ward. Northeast Houston was 2nd Ward. Southeast Houston was 3rd Ward. Southwest Houston was 4th Ward. This was once all of Houston. Many, if not most, people misuse the term and misidentify the wards.
The seven tours are:
- Tour A – Southeast Houston of Harrisburg, South Park, Riverside Terrace, and Timbercrest, east of SH 288
- Tour B – (Near Southeast Side) – 3rd Ward
- Tour C – (West Side) – 1st, 4th, and 6th Ward
- Tour D – (North Side) – Acres Home, Highland Heights, Kashmere Garden, and the 5th Ward
- Tour E – (South Side) – Sunnyside and Ranches
- Tour F – A Plantation and Independence Heights
- Tour G – Galveston
Tour A —Southeast Houston of Harrisburg, South Park, Riverside Terrace, and Timbercrest, east of SH 288
This includes a walking tour of the oldest African-American cemetery in Houston. It dates to the era of slavery and the first plantations in the Houston area. This location is in an area that was originally a city named Harrisburg. Houston annexed it, in 1926. The Yellow Rose of Texas is one of the most famous women in Black history. Six historic African-American churches still exist in this largely Hispanic barrio. We also visit Southpark, an area the Shrine of the Black Madonna church stands. Several African-American neighborhood institutions exist in this area of restaurants, funeral homes, barbershops, nail shops, and ballrooms. Most of this area was designed in the post-World War II period. We drive through MacGregor Park. We then go to Riverside Terrace and Timbercrest. These were the two most exclusive African-American neighborhoods in the US in the 1950s and 1960s. We stop for lunch at either Frenchy’s Chicken, the Riverside Terrace (an upscale restaurant that is time-consuming in an old mansion), or This Is It for soul food. We will drive by the largest African-American Catholic church in the city. We will see both the current Jack Yates High School and the original “Jack Yates Colored High School.” We visit Texas Southern University (TSU), one of the last historically African-American universities and colleges and the second largest in the US. We will see the former “Houston Negro Hospital,” Trinity United Methodist Church that is the oldest African-American congregation in Houston, Project Row Houses, the Flower Man’s home, Dupree Park, Vision Park, Emancipation Park, and the “Sixth Church of Christ Science (Colored).”
Tour B — (Near Southeast Side) – 3rd Ward
This tour focuses on several institutions of high culture – theaters and museums, as well as churches and businesses. We visit the Buffalo Soldiers National Museum. This museum traces the role of African-Americans in the Black history of the military, both males and females. We will see the House of Dereon, where Beyonce, Solange and Destiny’ Child have recorded. We will visit the Houston Branch of the NAACP, the Houston Museum of African-American Culture, the oldest and largest professional African-American theater in the Southwest – The Ensemble Theatre, and, if open, the Community Artists’ Collective. We will see the church that Beyonce and Kelly Rowland attend and the oldest African-American Catholic church in Houston. Lunch is normally at either a Jamaican or soul food restaurant on Almeda Road or a Luby’s cafeteria.
Tour C —(West Side) – 1st, 4th, and 6th Ward
This tour includes the former Doris Miller School, the site of the worst race riot in Houston history, Houston's third oldest housing project and site of the first African-American hospital, the oldest African-American church in Houston, Freedmen's Town, the African-American Library at the Gregory School, and more. The African-American Library at the Gregory School is probably the best single place to study local Black history. See where Jack Yates preached, his home, and where he is buried, as well as his son newspaper publisher Rutherford B. H. Yates. You will see the homes of late 1800s’ Black pioneers in Houston, including the Reverend Ned P. Pullum and attorney J. Vance Lewis, and mid 1900s’ entrepreneur Don Robey. Two of the four oldest African-American cemeteries in Houston are on this tour. At the current time, no traditional African-American restaurant exists in this area. Lunch is normally at either a Jamaican or soul food restaurant on Almeda Road in the 3rd Ward or Luby’s cafeteria in the 4th Ward.
Tour D —(North Side) – Acres Home, Highland Heights, Kashmere Garden, and the 5th Wards
This Black history tour will bring you to some of the most distinctively African-American areas of Houston. It includes driving by the current and past two Phillis Wheatley high schools, Evergreen Negro Cemetery, where the city paved a street through it, the former Peacock Records, Paradise North Cemetery, Julia C. Hester House, the childhood home of Barbara Jordan, George Foreman’s gym, the African-American St. Elizabeth Hospital, the 2nd oldest housing project in Houston, numerous churches, elementary and middle schools, and colorful murals. See historical markers identifying Frenchtown and Zydeco Music. Lunch at a favorite bar-be-cue place.
Tour E —(South Side) – Sunnyside and Ranches
Visit three or four local African-American ranches. Black history does not just exist in urban settings, but also in the ranches for which Texas is famous. Learn of the contribution of Blacks in rural Texas as cowboys and owners of ranches. You might have an opportunity to see some roping and ride a horse! You will also see the last subdivision established in Houston to be a segregated African-American community.
Tour F — A Plantation and Independence Heights
This Black history tour will take you through an 1800s plantation that once had over 300 slaves for a guided tour and the first city in Texas established by African-Americans. The house is open to tour and one of the sheds may be a former slave quarter. You can enjoy lunch at a traditional African-American bar-b-cue or soul food restaurant. Houston to the plantation is 50 miles/80 kilometers from Houston. The drive is approximately 1 hour.
Tour G — Tour of Galveston
This Black history tour includes seeing the sites of famous Black Galvestonians including the first heavyweight boxing champion, Jack Johnson, and the 1800s civil rights leader, Norris Wright Cuney. See the historic Black cemetery where one of the founders of the Deltas is buried, churches, segregated "Colored" public schools, parks, and the hundred year plus homes of Black families. See Texas’s first African-American African Methodist Episcopal Church Reedy Chapel AME Church, Texas’s first African American Baptist church Avenue L Missionary Baptist Church, Texas’s first African-American Catholic church Holy Rosary Catholic Church, and Texas’s first African-American Episcopal church Saint Augustine Episcopal Church. Visit the site at Ashton Villa where the Emancipation Proclamation was read on June 19th 1865, leading to over 100 years of Juneteenth celebrations. Lunch is at a traditional African-American bar-be-cue or seafood restaurant. Houston to Galveston is 51.2 miles/82.4 kilometers. The drive is approximately 1 hour.