Conroe’s historic black college to become community center for young people

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Plans for Conroe Normal and Industrial College include adding a football pitch and community garden. (Eva Vigh/Community Impact Journal)

For years, Conroe Normal and Industrial College, an all-black college built in 1903, stood empty on 10th Street.

The college was once a prominent and highly respected institution, according to the Texas State Historical Association. But after struggling to survive the Great Depression, he saw his enrollment dwindle again in the 1980s, and he eventually quit classes.

However, a recent partnership between a black activist and a Conroe police officer could help restore the college to a community center for young people.

LaDon Johnson, an activist with the Good Brothers and Sisters of Montgomery County, a nonprofit seeking to advocate for the black community, said he met Conroe Police Department Lt. Brent Stowe at a protest Johnson organized after the death of George Floyd. The two befriended each other and came up with the idea of ​​restoring the college.

“We had the same vision,” Stowe said.••The goal is to turn the college into a community development center for Conroe’s youth, which would include a football pitch, sports complex, community garden and kitchen for cooking classes, among others, says LaDon.

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The new center would be home to the Good Brothers and Sisters of Montgomery County as well as the Northside Lions of Montgomery County, a football program Stowe runs that works with young athletes.

“I’m just going to do some real community service,” Johnson said. “I will… get things done.”

The partners are in talks with the owner and are seeking donations from citizens as well as county and city funding. There’s no set timeline or projected costs yet, but LaDon said his goal would be $1 million.

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