Testimony Recorded 8.2.14
Lois and Doris - Former SB Residents
One lived in Sand Branch for 30+ years and now resides in Pecan Lake Mobile Home Park: The other lived in Sand Branch for 4 years and now resides in Seagoville
"I paid $443 [in rent] yesterday...part of my little check…that's all I'm on, a little fixed income and I had to give them almost half of that. It's hard to live on that."
"During the time when they was having all this mess about we had to move up from down here, well I was told that my trailer had to be demolished and, uh, it was back in 2006 when this was done. And which was in August, but I think in October was when the trailer was tore down.
But I didn't think it was right for them to come in and railroad us out because there never was a flood here and that, I guess, scared a lot of people, you know, to get up from down here, but I think it was wrong for them, you know, to make us move because we was on our grandfather's land and, uh, you know just the situation just turned all the way around different for a lot of people so, you know, this is just what I wanted to say because I believe it was wrong."
"And they gave us a certain time to move; they said if we didn't move, be done moved by the end of the month, everybody was going to have to start payin' a hundred dollars each month…so, my son, he got scared and said, c'mon we gonnna try to get out from down here since they running us away…so we went on and landed up there in Pecan Lake Mobile Home Park."
"They demolished a lot of trailers down here." "They said a flood was going to come through here and they didn’t want us down here."
"[They said] it would wash it off the foundation."
"I had a cousin, she won a double-wide mobile home…and she wanted to bring it down there on her grandparents' land…and they had her get a whole lot of dirt from some gravel pit and just pile it up…it's still down in there you can see down there where they had it pumped up, and they wanted her to set her house up on top of that and put some legs on it or something and raise it up."
"And then again they had told us the only way we could build anything down here…we had to build it up…it couldn't be on the ground."
"We used to enjoy Sand Branch. It was a nice place to stay. We all used to get along down here and kids running up and down the road and playing stuff."
"I'd like to see some improvement but the only thing that they did bring down here was a little swingset for kids and there ain't many kids down here, but then again up on that hill up there that put that big water [treatment plant]..if they put that up there they could a put us some water down here, you know, cause we didn't have well water…we had septic tanks and stuff like that but the point of it is, they could have did better for the Black community."
"Everybody knew everybody, whatever…whudden no drive-by shootings and all that stuff, stealing and all that stuff…but I'm just saying, you know you're scared up there in Dallas…but see this is the country and we still come back to the country 'cause this is home…this is homeland, it's gonna always be our homeland."
If you could change something about Sand Branch, what would it be?
"Clean up down here and maybe put some houses down here and maybe, you know, I'd be willing to move back, 'cause if I could save money any kind of way by coming back down here I would."
"Same thing, you know, because we had cars and stuff but after we moved and had to get out on our own and stuff like that we had to buy cars…it was a hindrance to us because the rent and stuff…down here we were on our grandfather's land… and we could make it."
Deborah and Barbara - Former SB Residents (mother and daughter)
Deborah lived in Sand Branch for 30+ years
Barbara grew up in Sand Branch and now resides in Seagoville
"I used to live here for some thirty-some years but now I don’t, I live down the street…the main thing is the water…we don’t have running water like regular people do, we have water that you get from the well…and sometime if the well is not working you got to work on it and do this and that…I think if they had water down here it would probably be better, lots better."
"I grew up here…when you go to other neighborhoods…knowing that this little community is just right within Seagoville in Dallas County and knowing that it's not the same…and there's such a tremendous difference [in] the living conditions here in comparison to just down the road and it's amazing that for all these years…
I mean, great people, educated people, family-oriented people, everybody has flourished that has come through here…every neighborhood has bad people, every neighborhood has a whole mix of people and you got that from here…
but when we were growing up there was so much life here and it was so much fun, there was kids on the street playing…we all knew that, you know, that it wasn't the best, but we were all taught to make the best out of what we had…
I think that if the attention was focused on improvement…it would be much better…a lot of people like my mom, my aunt, people who have lived here for thirty something years and then…they ended up having to move…
it's just kind of unfortunate because a lot of people grew up here and it was such strong families, such strong community and they raised children here…
so, the Sand Branch that we see today is different from when I was growing up but it's still home, it's still Sand Branch…still a lot of work to be done."
"They had a meeting at this church. I think John Wiley Price was here and, you know, they were talking about the people that had the mobile homes they had to move out because it's going to flood…
we moved down here in '62, you know, with our parents, and it had never flooded…to this day it never has flooded but they had the people with the mobile homes move out, so I had a mobile home right up here next to the church, right up here on Belt Line, so I had to move my mobile home because they say it's going to flood and to this day it hasn't flooded yet."
"So she still owns the property but she had to move and that's the sad thing or the tragic thing about it was that, you know, like she said, they moved here in '62, my grandparents, my mom and my siblings they helped build that house and that was something that, even as a kid, I always loved the fact that you have a community of African-Americans who either own their own home or they take pride in their home and these are homes that they've raised their kids, now their grandkids are living there and then, when this is happening, you still get the empty promises of this improvement is gonna change…
I remember when they finally paved the streets 'cause we used to just have gravel…it was just gravel, I can remember Belt Line was a two-lane…
it is sad that in 2014 you still have to fight for such things as water, or better water, better conditions for people to live…unfortunately, that's just the way of society, some people get neglected and kind of fall through the cracks."
"I don’t live here anymore so I can only tell you what I used to know. We used to have a community center, we used to have different things that went on in the community…you can always get some sort of literary program for kids, you can always have a tutoring program for kids…
something that helps remind people…'cause these are proud people…nobody wants to feel like they're being taken advantage of or feel like they're a charity case but I think those types of things that are to be offered…
I know, in the City of Desoto, for instance, they have this project that's called the Great Days of Service where the community, the churches, everybody comes together and they go to various homes where they repaint the home, yard work is done and it might be for senior citizens that might not be able to afford that but it's an opportunity for people to come together and do this whole week of service projects, so, I mean, something like that…just to help people out that maybe aren't able to help themselves…
if more attention is focused on that as well…but I think the heart of the matter is that, you know, you need water for so many things- to cook, to clean, to live…I've heard that since I was a kid, you know, the water needs to be improved - and it hasn't happened."
"We've had so many people in charge that never did what they said, but I think if they got the water going, like regular people have regular water, you can turn the faucet on and water come out without the sand coming in it, and without having to use the well, I think that would be a big improvement."
"You have to remember that these are voters too…you can’t forget all of your constituents, that these are people with needs and because it's a small area back in the woods…
these are still people and they're still human and they still deserve to be treated with respect…you learn growing up that it doesn't matter where you come from…my cousins and I, we sit around now and we wish that we had an opportunity to have our kids at a place where they can run, we could ride our bikes, you know, as long as we home by the streetlight comes on…
I wish we could give our kids that because society has changed so much but I think if, to the powers that be, if they know that this is a community first and foremost…just because of the location and just because of who lives here, don't forget about 'em, don't neglect them, they deserve the same treatment as somebody in North Dallas, Frisco, DeSoto, the other side of Seagoville…just because this is Sand Branch, it doesn't mean that you just cast it away..
Question: Why did you end up moving?
"I had a mobile home so they said this is a flood area. Some people's mobile home didn’t move…I had a double wide mobile home and so they were going to move me for free…some people did move but some people stayed."
"I graduated high school in '96 and I ended up getting married and moved and now I'm back in the Seagoville area right down the street…so, you know, this is always home, it's always home."
"I think growing up I didn't appreciate what I had here, like most kids, you can't wait to move away from home…but, looking back, I mean, this was a neighborhood…I take pride in knowing that you had people who may not have been well-educated but they had a sense of pride in who they were and raising their families and this literally was a community in the sense that I couldn't do anything on this street and my parents or my grandparents on the other street didn't know about…
and that's what a lot of people appreciate about here, people have one another's back, you knew your neighbors and you don't always get that these days because people kind of disguise themselves, but you knew who you were dealing with…you know, we were all the same so, I love the fact that yeah I could get out and play, you know, ride our bikes, my best friend and I used to skate on Belt Line so all those things that any normal kid remembers about their childhood, we had that here, in spite of the fact that other things weren't right or, you know, you consider this impoverished…
we were rich in the sense that we had culture, we had family, we had all the things that makes a community a community…it was just the fact that we also knew that we weren't getting treated right."
"As far as I know, Commissioner Price has always been the Commissioner for this area…and it's always been a promise of what will happen or what can happen…I've always heard about the threat of the 100 year flood is what they used to call it and it's never happened. I've only been alive 36 years but it's never happened.
It's NEVER happened…you kind of are concerned about who you invite to your house 'cause growing up I did have a lot of friends who lived in Seagoville and I couldn't invite them over to my house when we can't turn the faucet on…and it makes you self-conscious because, you know, that's not normal. It's not. Things like that, I remember that…but when you compare the good and the bad it was much more good."
"Why hasn't it taken place?...as far as technology has come, how can they not, you know, have a system that functions down here? It doesn't make sense. It doesn't make sense."
Question: What do you think the reason is? Why do you think people haven't helped yet?
"I don't know…you can say it's racial, you can say it's economical and it's probably a mixture of all of the above and maybe the fact that we haven't protested in the streets, we haven't shouted loud enough but I think sometimes with life, it gets so hard you learn how to suffer in silence…and if everybody is suffering from the same condition it's just like, ok, well we are in this struggle together…
I think now, you know, maybe we should have made more noise, maybe we should have, you know, gotten our signs and picketed or, you know, things of that nature but who knows if it would have made a difference…but I appreciate the fact that you guys are trying, I really do, because I think for those who are still down here, there will definitely be some good that come out of it."