Write and Wrong

"We had thought that coming from a background where she was discriminated against, she would be more sympathetic to us," Johnson says. "But looking back, we've had a woman in Kathy Whitmire and a law enforcement person in Lee P. Brown, and they didn't help us, either."

Johnson believes that despite all Freedmen's Town's culture and history, City Hall and the town's monied developers want it, too, to be erased.

It isn't just hard-core economics. That Freedmen's Town existed so close to downtown has been an embarrassment to many Houston boosters, who cringed every time a visiting photographer would snap a picture of a dilapidated shotgun shack in the foreground of Houston's glittering skyline, and some still see houses like those on Victor as more of a disgrace than a treasure.

"They started by pushing us over the freeway and they've been trying to get us out of here ever since," he says. "This is a land takeover, just like they did with the Native Americans."

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