Little Texas

Tony Mims speaks at the unveiling of the Little Texas historical marker at the Bon Secours Wellness Arena in Greenville SC during the Little Texas Reunion on August 12, 2017.

The newly installed historical marker for the black neighborhood of Little Texas. Bon Secours Wellness Arena, Greenville, SC.

Little Texas

by Tony Mims

If you don’t honor your history,

you won’t respect your future.

If you only live in the now

you can get lost in the many illusions

that will only feed the pitfalls

of your own personal confusion.

That’s why the memories of your home

should be a force of the positive and the strong.

It’s the roots of positive experience of growing up

that help your vision stay focused on what is real

and gives you solid meaning to how you should feel

in a world that sometimes gives life very little meaning.

 

The history of Little Texas goes way back.

About twenty years after they had to let the slaves free

this black downtown neighborhood

was Greenville’s first black working class community.

The neighborhood was originally built around Allen School.

Black men had built it on the other side of town.

They disassembled the school; they moved it,

and they rebuilt it on these sacred grounds.

 

Black families moved near the school, seeking a better life.

They knew that education would help their children to succeed.

It was their early sacrifice that insured a smarter future creed

based on their educational needs.

And this black community grew strong.

 

This is the legend of how Little Texas got its name.

It was the Great Depression and Prohibition

that gave this black neighborhood its fame.

With no jobs, no money, the neighborhood changed.

Now making moonshine, shooting dice, playing cards,

whoring houses, Little Texas was a major player in the game.

You can imagine that this neighborhood got rough

and the people got tough.

They had to protect their home and they didn’t take no mess.

It was like living in the Wild Wild West.

Now that’s the story of how Little Texas got its name

and its fame.

 

After the Great Depression ended in 1939

the Little Texas neighborhood was redefined.

People started working again.

Black families started to move back in.

They were buying their houses and land.

Black families were owning their homes

and taking care of their own

in spite of being economically and socially deprived.

This black community grew strong and thrived.

There wasn’t any federal assistance or Welfare.

The neighborhood took care of its own.

Somebody had to care because the system wasn’t fair.

We shared our homes, our food, our clothes, our cars

and even the radio, and then the TV.

People slept with their windows and doors open.

There were no worries over someone breaking in.

This was a black neighborhood of family and friends.

 

In 1970 our neighborhood came to an end.

They took our land.

Friends and families had to disband.

We moved to every part of the city

and Little Texas became an empty parking lot

for almost twenty years.

Every time I rode by the empty lots

I experienced lost memories, lost tears.

 

We may have lost our old neighborhood

but we didn’t lose our community.

Today we stand strong honoring our past and history.

Over the years we kept what we had shared together alive.

 

And now with the placement of this historical marker

the Little Texas Community will always survive.

This poem is a wrap

because we put Little Texas back on the map.

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