HOUSTON, Texas — Look closely at what is now a post office on Almeda Road and you’ll spot details of a monumental milestone in Houston history.
That's is where the city’s first sit-in took place 60 years ago next month.
A number of TSU students and others decided to integrate a “whites-only” lunch counter, despite verbal taunts and possible arrest.
Other public places followed and Dr. Earl Allen was a pivotal presence.
"You cannot think about or talk about civil rights in Houston without mentioning the names of Rev. Dr. William A. Lawson and Dr. Earl E. Allen," said Pastor Kirbyjon Caldwell. "That was just the reality of it.”
Pastor Caldwell’s church, Windsor Village United Methodist, announced Allen’s passing at age 86.
"He was a very kind and gentle man who helped a lot of people,” said Caldwell.
Allen joined Caldwell’s church years after founding his own congregation, Miracle Land Church.
That followed years of active involvement in the civil rights movement.
Allen organized peaceful demonstrations and helped ease local tensions following Dr. Martin Luther King, Junior’s assassination in 1968.
"He mentored many of us in regards to being calm and remembering what Dr. King stood for,” said longtime friend and Houston radio personality Ralph Cooper.
Cooper shared a photo taken outside a community resource center Allen founded.
Boxer George Foreman, another person Allen mentored, is in the center of the photo.
He mentored many of us who were, at that time. in our teens and early 20s," said Cooper. "And had no idea what we wanted to do or end up being." "I’m one of them.”
Mayor Sylvester Turner honored Allen at Houston City Hall just last year.
He said, at the time, that Allen was one who strived to speak for those who often cannot.
"We will miss him, dearly,” said Caldwell.
A celebration of life for Dr. Allen will take place Saturday at Windsor Village United Methodist Church.
More details about his legacy and arrangements are in this media release from the church:
February 17, 2020 (Houston, TX) – A Celebration of Life Worship Service for Rev. Dr. Earl Allen Sr. will be held at 10:00 a.m., Saturday, February 22, 2020 at Windsor Village United Methodist Church, 6000 Heatherbrook Dr., Houston, Texas 77085.
Born in 1935, in Houston, Texas, Dr. Allen grew up in a Fifth Ward row house. During the racially turbulent 50’s and 60’s, Earl vowed to never to accept the humiliation of segregation. While he was a senior at Texas Southern University, he became the spokesperson for a group of students who conducted a march and sit-in at a “whites only” lunch counter at Weingarten’s Supermarket. A short time later, the store permanently closed the lunch counter. In Dallas, Earl faced discrimination while he was a seminary student at Southern Methodist University. The pastor and CORE leader was jailed several times for leading the picketing of Piccadilly’s Cafeteria. A few weeks after those protests, the cafeteria served its first Black customer. Dr. Allen was known for his nonviolence and embraced the label “responsible militant.” During 1967’s “long hot summer” of riots across America, Dr. Allen was asked to appear before a United States Senate hearing on civil rights where he described civil rights activities in Houston.
Dr. Allen was a writer, teacher, inspirational speaker and ordained minister for 61 years. He was the founder of MIRACLELAND Church. He authored and published several books, tapes and educational products for the Christian education market. His latest work is a soon-to-be released book entitled, “HOPE Then and Now: The Holy Spirit’s Presence in Civil Rights.” Until recently, he was a consultant for Windsor Village United Methodist Church.
Dr. Allen passed on February 16, 2020. He leaves behind his wife Jeanette; sons and daughter, several grandchildren and a host of loving relatives and friends.
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