The Lightnin’ Hopkins Plaque and the Mahatma Gandhi District

THE LIGHTNIN’ HOPKINS PLAQUE AND THE MAHATMA GANDHI DISTRICT “Like all good Americans, we were pleased to learn that Sam Hopkins is finally getting some belated semi-official recognition in the form of a Texas Historical Commission plaque on a corner of Dowling Street in Third Ward, a thoroughfare named in honor of the Confederate-Irish barkeep who headed off the Yankees at the Pass in the service of the effort to keep Lightnin’ Hopkins’ forebears enslaved. (Pardon our “presentism,” but, man, history is just so damn ironic!) This is a good thing, of course–the plaque, not slavery–and temporary culmination of efforts that at least to our knowledge began with a long-ago suggestion by the late City Councilwoman Eleanor Tinsley (to whom it was most assuredly suggested by someone else) to rename a street or part of a street after Hopkins. Unsuccessful as it was, this always struck us as a sweet gesture, since Tinsley didn’t seem like the kind of gal who’d have listed her self as a friend on Lightnin’s Facebook page, if he’d lived long enough to have one. . . . But the plaque is not enough. Just recently, a small swath of the home turf on and around Hillcroft Avenue was designated as the Mahatma Gandhi District . . . Our understanding is that this designation–made visible by placement of small signs, in the shape of a Hindu temple and bearing Gandhi’s likeness, atop the regular street signs–was the result of a private fund-raising effort. . . . Can anyone apply to so designate a district? And if so, where is the Lightnin’ Hopkins District? A memorial sign on Dowling is good and appropriate, but it sort of ghetto-izes the man, who . . . “embodied the country-come-to-town spirit” of our big hick burg better than almost anyone we can think of, except for its namesake, the illustrious Illiad-spouting farmboy and drunkard.” [Slampo’s Place]

7 Comment

  • I think he deserves to have one of those giant-sized David Adickes bust by a busy freeway or road.

  • What we REALLY need is a Blues District in the 3rd ward. Imagine an area with partial streets/ monuments in remembrance of Houston legends (and those who toured through the area) like Lightnin’ Hopkins, Bobby ‘Blue’ Bland, Duke-Peacock Records, Clifton Chenier, Gatemouth Brown, Albert Collins, Earl Gilliam, Little Joe Washington, I.J. Gosey, T. Bone Walker, Junior Parker, Johnny Taylor, Buddy Ace, Joe Hinton, Don Robey… the list is huge. This might have the chance to actually revitalize the area and maybe start another entertainment district.

    I’m dreaming, though. Let’s build a soccer stadium.

  • Absolutely! We are there! Read ‘Down in Houston’ for amazing history of Houston and blues.

  • Which intersection on Dowling? I’ve never heard or seen of this and want to check it out…no mention from Slampo, either.

  • It won’t be put up until this mid-September. The planned location is Dowling at Francis. There was a newspaper article about it here: If you read through the comments, you will see one from Eric Davis (the prime mover behind the marker) describing the process of getting one. It’s quite involved.

  • Actually, Mayor Kathy Whitmire declared a portion of Dowling “Lightnin’ Hopkins Blvd” at the time of his demise. The usual mapsearches come up empty, but it did happen.
    I probably stole the street signs one drunk night.

  • Yes, a Blues District would be wonderful! Could we somehow add an annex for Zydeco in the 5th? Will