Fronteras Extra: Bexar County's Earliest Black Landowners
Everett Fly is an award-winning San Antonio architect and landscape architect. He is a 2014 National Humanities Medalist, honored by the White House for preserving the integrity of African-American places and landmarks.
Fly has played an important role in unveiling the hidden African-American history of San Antonio. The east side of the city is known for being predominantly African-American, while the west side is predominantly Hispanic.
But Fly said the segregation of the city came after African Americans established themselves in the region.
“There were African-American enclaves all over the city,” he said. “... I think it’s been more of an oversimplification, that division of east side and west side.”
Fly said the variety of ethnicities have enriched San Antonio’s culture.
“I’ll give you one example: We found an African-American family (who) intermarried with a Mexican-American family. Their children ... spoke Spanish,” he said. “I think that enriches the culture and enriches that family.”
Also, Fly talks about Jane Warren a former slave who owned her own cattle and registered her own cattle brand in 1875.
“So far, Jane is the only African American woman we’ve been able to find in the Spanish archives with a brand from the 1850s until 1930,” said Fly. “We’re still searching post-1930.” Warren’s brand was a “lazy” YOK.
Fly has re-registered this and other cattle brands from San Antonio’s earliest black landowners. Fly said, “The brands became clues, if you will, in our search to find out where the people lived, who they were, and how they evolved into the community.” The San Antonio African American Archive and Museum offers baseball caps embroidered with these cattle brands in order “to inspire people to be proud of this history and this legacy.”