activism

The day started off like any other – get up, run some errands, and relax. A very typical Saturday or so I thought.

Amongst the never ending flood of memes and political trash talking on Facebook that morning, I came across a live feed from a group I follow called Hemphill No Se Vende (HNSV). HNSV is a community organization working to defend the Southside from gentrification and called upon it’s followers for support.


“We’re out here on 2500 S. Hemphill Street in Southside Fort Worth, TX. Come out and support Hemphill No Se Vende as we battle against gentrification and displacement. We want to make sure the community has a place at the table and are included in any and all talks that has to do with the Southside of Fort Worth, TX – which is a majority Spanish speaking community. So come out and support and come as a solidarity group and show our support for Southside and Hemphill No Se Vende…”

We want to make sure the community has a place at the table and are included in any and all talks that has to do with the Southside of Fort Worth

– Ricardo with Hemphill No Se Vende via Facebook

It was my first time seeing a live video from the group, seeing the murals being painted in the background I thought it would be a great to watch them live so I packed up my gear and made my way there.

hemphill

– view of downtown from Hemphill – Jan 2021

Goggling “Hemphill Fort Worth”, I was surprised by the lack of information about the neighborhood or street. The street was most likely named after an early Texas judge and US Senator named John Hemphill in the early 20th century. The road was also serviced by a trolley car line that connected the street to downtown and described as “one of the most elegant and desirable residential streets south of downtown Ft. Worth“. Today you will find a busy street filled with cars, pedestrians walkways, and train tracks that pass through its 4.4 mile-stretch of road. It’s also home to a large Spanish-speaking community who do business in the neighborhood, many of whom say they never received notice of rezoning efforts in the area.

– car parked along Hemphill – Jan. 2021

As I unpacked my gear and made my way towards the meetup, the sounds of the dj and fizz of the spray cans filled the air. Passers by honked their horns, some getting out their cars to shake hands, in support of the murals being painted on the corner. To the right, the wall read “Hemphill No Se Vende” and to the left an image of Mexican Revolutionary leader – Emiliano Zapata.

– artist and local shaking hands – Jan. 2021

emiliano zapata

– Emiliano Zapata – Jan. 2021

Emiliano Zapata was one of the main leaders of the Mexican Revolution from around 1910-1920 in the state of Morelos located just south of Mexico City. Zapata was the inspiration of the movement called Zapatismo and had much success during the war. Towards the later half, however, he was ambushed and killed by orders of then Mexican president Venustiano Carranza. Zapata fought for the rights of the people in his community and against those who monopolized it’s resources for personal wealth. The mural of Zapata is a testament to the communities will to fight, recognize it’s cultural history, and keep Hemphill theirs – much like Zapata during the Mexican Revolution.

hemphill no se vende

– artists working on HNSV mural – Jan. 2021

Speaking with those in attendance and later doing research online, I found the neighborhood demanded the following; 1) provide the community information in both English and Spanish on rezoning efforts and 2) have an independent committee created that’s made up of community representatives to “ensure equitable participation of the directly impacted community to put forth recommendations of change on the rezoning plan, as necessary.” The main concern among the residents is how development along Hemphill could raise property taxes and force them out, a repeat of what happened during the Magnolia Avenue development a couple years ago.

The main concern among the residents is how development along Hemphill could raise property taxes and force them out, a repeat of what happened during the Magnolia Avenue development a couple years ago.

– viewing of the murals – Jan. 2021

Through their united efforts, HNSV has temporarily stopped any further progress on rezoning and have expressed their concerns directly with city representatives.

final thoughts

Despite not staying the entire time, I was able to learn more about the movement in Southside and significance of the art. I think about the times I’ve scrolled past posts calling for action and community support, the times I didn’t take action thinking someone else would solve the problems in my community. I think about the number of modern day Zapatas walking our street who never take action or get involved for the betterment of their lives and communities.

I believe any type of positive change starts with action – focusing time and energy into projects that add value in our lives.

For me, I believe any type of positive change starts with action – focusing time and energy into projects that add value in our lives. If we only dream but never act, those dreams will always be dreams. If you are reading this, it’s my hope you can put forth action on a goal you’ve always want accomplished no matter how hard it may seem a first. Writing it down on paper is the simplest and fastest way to get started, let those smaller action build up to a major action and let that major action be the momentum you need for the ones that follow. You never know what you could’ve done or been and if you never tried, it’s never late to start now. Take the first step and answer the call inside you!

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