Summer is officially in our rear view as temperatures drop and the school year is well on its way. While summer looked quite different with the lack of travel plans, trips to the pool, and many other seasonal activities, the Apra Greater Houston Board did not abandon our beach reading list (really, our backyard or living room reading list), and in fact, supplemented it with a selection that helped us get to know our city better and reflect on where we have been and where we are going as a community. The book that has us talking is Prophetic City: Houston on the Cusp of a Changing America by Stephen L. Klineberg.
So, what did we think?:
“As a lifelong Houstonian, I was surprised at how much I was still able to learn about the history of our city from Klineberg. While today, Houston is an incredibly diverse and fairly progressive city, Prophetic City highlights the history of discrimination that shaped much of the city we know today. Things like how as recent as 1980, there were open sewers in the black communities of Houston; and how 5th Ward was purposely bisected by the construction of I-10 and Hwy 59, cutting off downtown access and further isolating those minority communities. The story of the police murder of Vietnam veteran Jose Campos Torres in 1977 where the cops were convicted but given probation and fined $1 sounds all too similar to the many stories of police brutality against people of color that we’re still grappling with today. The studies that Klineberg and his students began in 1981 show how common racist views were not that long ago, but also show surprisingly progressive views like environmental protection and gay rights. It’s fun to read about how we as a city have changed over the last four decades, in both positive and negative ways. “ – Ashley Estes, Apra Greater Houston Board Secretary
“Fascinating! While Houston is home, I did not realize how much more there was to the city’s story. I loved reading about the familiar names we know as Houstonians, like Jesse H. Jones, but excited to learn about the ones I didn’t know as well like the Suite 8F Crowd. If you ever wondered how we earned the title of “the sinkhole and pothole capital of America,” Klineberg covers that as well. He does not pull the punches, quick to highlight where we have fallen short as a community, along with celebrating the best parts of who we are. I have always felt that Houston was a special place, and Klineberg does a wonderful job explaining why.” – Natasha Jesudason, Apra Greater Houston Board Marketing & Communication Director
“As a native Houstonian, I was pleasantly surprised at how much information I didn’t know before reading Prophetic City. I was most fascinated by learning how much philanthropy shaped Houston. The philosophy of the early Houston leaders was that government (and specifically taxes) should be minimal and civic leaders needed to also donate time, money, and effort, so that burgeoning cultural institutions could flourish. Their reasoning was not as altruistic as it seems on face value, but it was effective. More cultural offerings meant more people wanted to move to Houston and business could also thrive. But that philosophy of helping others and leading the charge on adding cultural institutions has continued to thrive 180+ years after Houston’s founding. In addition to that, learning about how Stephen Klineberg’s annual study came to fruition and some of his key findings over years was fascinating to me as a researcher.” – Brittani Williams, Apra Greater Houston Board President
The Board’s informal book club was so much fun that we would like to invite you to join us. Our Fall selection is Biased by Jennifer L. Eberhardt. Watch your inboxes for an opportunity to meet virtually in November to discuss the book.