Marked Improvement

OPINION by Mark Lacy

A day of exploration on the historic Levi Jordan Plantation with University of Houston archaeology professor Ken Brown recalled vivid images of slavery.

Dr. Brown pointed to the remaining foundations of the slaves' quarters as he described a legal system stacked against slaves and freedmen. He said it was no coincidence that counties like Brazoria and Fort Bend, with rich farmland and once-sprawling plantations, were also home to prominent Texas penitentiaries. Blacks were not given the same legal considerations as Whites and received prison terms in cases where Whites were often never brought to trial. Prison labor was a cheap substitute for the slave labor used to harvest sugar cane and cotton before the abolition of slavery.

With this in mind and a South Texas rain storm on the horizon, we locked the gate and left the historic plantation.

On the way back to Houston we stopped at a store in the small town of Brazoria to ask for a local restaurant recommendation. An Asian woman directed us to a nearby Mexican Restaurant, El Zarape. Four or five tables were occupied by White and Hispanic customers. A proud Hispanic woman looked out from behind the counter, while several waitresses hurried around to deliver menus and hot plates of food.

A Black family entered the restaurant and was greeted by the seated locals who flattered the children by commenting on how handsome they were and how fast they were growing.

While the children blushed from the attention, the parents talked about how grateful they were to see a heavy soaking rain return to the Brazos Valley.

It was good to see that diverse people can carry on with dignity and respect given the horrors of the not-so-distant past. Some things have changed for the better in Brazoria.

See images of Levi Jordan Plantation.
Related interest: Huddie Ledbetter