While Lante and Nakiba Phillips were taking a walk around a park in a Houston neighborhood, they were stopped in their tracks by a “slaves-for-sale” flyer nailed to a tree, according to Click2Houston. Police are not only trying to find who put the flyer up but they are also investigating to see if this qualifies as a hate crime.
Sunnyside is the oldest historically Black neighborhood in the south side of Houston, per the Texas State Library. Thousands of enslaved Black people resided in the region before the Civil War. In 1912, H.H. Holmes plotted the land and founded the community where Black people began to settle. Yet, after surviving decades of racist violence and annexation, someone thought it clever to remind the Black residents where they came from.
The Phillips told reporters they came to Sunnyside park regularly to walk their laps. Thursday morning, their walk was interrupted by a disturbing blast from the past: a “For Sale” sign for slaves. The flyer read, “Great Sale of Negroes” dated November 11, 1855. Underneath listed “one buck” and 2 “wenches” with given names, ages and described as “excellent cooks” or “servants.”
“I was floored, actually. I did see that it was dated 1855. So it seems someone definitely did their history,” Nakiba said to Click2Houston. “Oh my God, will the tree be on fire tomorrow? Like what’s next?” The couple reported the flyer to the park worker who removed it from the tree. However, the perpetrator is still out there, maybe even hanging more flyers.
Read the reactions from Click2Houston:
“We want them to know that those days been over, and this not no plantation. This is our home. This is our community. That’s how we treat it, and that’s how they’re gonna treat it,” said Travis McGee, who is a civic leader with Sunnyside Garden/Bayou.
“Back in April this year, we had a contractor come out and inspected the whole park area to put up surveillance cameras and give city councilmembers the price and stuff,” said Tracy Stephens, who is the president of the Sunnyside Civic Club.
Houston police say the Criminal Intelligence Division is investigating to try to find out who put the flyer up and whether a hate crime was committed.