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Johnson / Incorporation of Prairie View, TX, Part One

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Interviewer: Can you tell me what the city looked like before its incorporation and then what it started to look like afterwards? In terms of infrastructure, were there paved roads? Were there street lights before its incorporation? Johnson: Not much. Around Prairie View, I think in the thirties during the—the federal government bought up a lot of land around and gave out fourteen farms around. Gave these to black farmers. Before it was just land around. The university was there. It was, in effect, self-contained and the people who came to work here had to live on the campus and they had faculty housing, that sort of thing. Dormitories for students. As time passed, some entrepreneur came in and developed what we call Alta Vista and he built those kind of houses you’d see. Modest— Interviewer: This is considered Alta Vista? This area? Johnson: This subdivision. When you came in that gate is known as Alta Vista. Interviewer: And it was built after the city’s incorporation in 1969? Johnson: No, it was built before the incorporation. It was really a breakaway from the university and the change also in that where the workers could move off campus. There was a lot of fight about that too. Coincidentally, it was whites who came in and developed this. Paved streets, gutters. They made a perpetuity agreement with the university for water and sewage. So, it operated—when we moved here in 1969, it was not incorporated. The city was to incorporate later. I think around 1972. Seventy-one, 1972. This was the best. I’m ashamed of it now because it’s gone down so much, but yeah, this is (inaudible) and this is basically the better part. Now the city has—they don’t all have paved streets and gutters, but we have our own water system and I think they still use the university because the HGA, the area council, tried to get these entities to function more efficiently and better, you know. Anyway, so we still use the university for sewage.

Interview Interview with James E. Johnson
Subjects Citizenship › Appeals to Federal Government
Work › "Black Jobs"
Housing › Neighborhoods
Geography › Geographic Disparities in Infrastructure
Education › Teachers and Administrators
Historic Periods › 1956-1969
Tags Prairie View A&M University
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Interview date 2015-07-21
Interview source CRBB Summer 2015
Interviewees Johnson, James E.
Interviewers Acuña-Gurrola, Moisés
Bynum, Katherine
Locations Prairie View, TX
Duration 00:03:49
Citation "Incorporation of Prairie View, TX, Part One," from James E. Johnson oral history interview with Moisés Acuña-Gurrola and Katherine Bynum,  July 21, 2015, Prairie View, TX , Civil Rights in Black and Brown Interview Database,, accessed January 27, 2021