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Lee / Change in Conroe, TX

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Interviewer: So, in terms of the big changes that you’ve seen in Conroe, obviously you’re (inaudible) so you’ve seen a lot— Lee: I’ve seen this town—street change—I don’t even recognize half of Conroe. Only way I know it now is because I grew up here. If I hadn’t grown up here, I wouldn’t even know how to get around Conroe, but I know it because they’ve changed a lot of streets and they’ve built a lot of freeways, overpasses here. They’ve built up here tremendously a lot, but where’s the black man in it? He’s nowhere in the equation. He’s over in Dugan. Two streets. Twelve and Thirteenth. For those that didn’t move out because most of them after they—around my age bracket, you moved away from here. Only time you came back here was to bury somebody or to visit your parents or something like that, but you didn’t come back to stay. Interviewer: We did skip that. What brought you back from, you said you were up in— Lee: I lived in Navasota. Interviewer: So, you were in Dallas for a while and then you came— Lee: I’ve been as far as Washington. Seattle. I worked for Boeing Aircraft. Interviewer: Okay. So, what brought you back to Texas? Lee: What brought me back here? Job. Orange Corning built a plant out on (inaudible) Chemical Road and so they told me they was building a plant in Texas, I said “Whereabout?” They said, “In Conroe.” I said, “That’s home” and I came back here. That’s when I met Susan. Interviewer: So why did you choose Navasota over Conroe? Lee: I don’t know. I went up there—I got up there, went to a guy’s church (inaudible) an anniversary and the preacher told me to (inaudible) a love offering, and I saw this lady up there and I went back again, and I went back again, and again, and again, until one day I asked her to marry me and I never came back. (laughs) Interviewer: That’s a good reason. So, what about you in terms of changes that you’ve seen? Proctor: Honestly, the only changes that I’ve seen through my time, like I said, has been on the outside of the Dugan community. They come in and they do certain things just to keep, you know, kind of keep quiet. Okay, we did this thing here, but I’ve never seen any drastic changes in the community. There’s no sidewalks in the community now. I’m thirty-four. There’s never been any sidewalks in the community, but you’ll get pulled over and get a citation for walking in the street. Well where else is it for me to walk? Where is it for me to ride my bike but in the street. You know, like I say, the changes that I’ve seen has only benefitted the ones they wanted to benefit from. Lee: You can tell when Dugan starts at. When I was a boy coming up right there where the Shafer’s house at and big oil men used to live on the other side. Now it’s a black couple, some black lady she bought that property. Proctor: Milton Barnum Lee: Yeah. They brought that property. Then, I think the Shafer’s still live on that other side. Proctor: Well, no. Mr. Shafer died. They donated the place to a kids’ home. It’s a kids’ home. Lee: Shafer was the only somebody I saw that have livestock. Goats in downtown Conroe. Proctor: Yeah. He had them right across from Pilgrim Rest Church. Lee: He donated heavily to the church, but it was always nice from his house (inaudible) you get to Dugan you start seeing the houses start looking bad. A lot of blacks were doing good because they had start building houses. For themselves, you know, the older blacks. A lot of blacks grew up pretty decent in that area until you got to some of the rental properties that the white slumlords that built down in Dugan and it was a mess. Say like Johnson Farms, you know where that at? Proctor: Mmm-hmm. Lee: Now that was a slum to me. Interviewer: So, they’re owned by white landlords and they don’t take care of it? Lee: Nah. Patch and a nail and board there. You get in there and live and pay me my rent. Interviewer: So, what are the changes that you want to see for Conroe and the surrounding area? Lee: I’d like to see a lot of changes in this area. First, I’d like to see the young black men return home with jobs, a future. I’d like to see the police department stop harassing the young black men so much. I’ve had nephews go to jail for lesser crimes doing lifetime. Crimes in this area—I’ve seen people done killed people three or four times. Been in and out of prison. He’s still doing three ninety-nine years for rape. I’d like to see the police department come together a lot better than what it is. Blacks need jobs and I’d like to see more educational standards, not only in the Hispanic area but in the black area because Johnson Community Center should have been built over in the black area. Even the black college, Conroe College, it had all the mechanic. It had a lot of trades. Computer skill, nursing skill. They took all that away. Interviewer: That is something that we did skip. You went to the Conroe College. Now that was a very old institution wasn’t it? Lee: Right. Right. Interviewer: And it had been in the African American community for a very long time? Lee: As long as I can remember, has always been a college over there and they had some of the most prestigious, the best preachers ever came through Montgomery county. If you were any preacher and you went to any big city, you mostly went to Conroe College and people would request a Conroe College preacher, you know, to come to their church when they was looking for a pastor. They wanted a pastor that graduated from Conroe College.

Interview Interview with Charles Lee and Toddrick Proctor
Subjects Family › Marriage
Family › Childhood Experiences
Housing › Neighborhoods
Religion › Churches
Community Organizations
Geography › Geographical Descriptions
Geography › Places (Cities, Towns, Neighborhoods, and Intersections)
Geography › Geographic Disparities in Infrastructure
Police and Law Enforcement
Tags Johnson Community Center, Conroe, TX
Conroe College, Conroe, TX
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Interview date 2016-07-21
Interview source CRBB Summer 2016
Interviewees Lee, Charles
Proctor, Toddrick
Interviewers May, Meredith
Duration 00:07:06
Citation "Change in Conroe, TX," from Charles LeeandToddrick Proctor oral history interview with Meredith May,  July 21, 2016, Tammany, TX, Civil Rights in Black and Brown Interview Database,, accessed June 17, 2024