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This Is Our Home, It Is Not for Sale

This Is Our Home, It Is Not for Sale is the title of a 1987 documentary film by Jon Schwartz that chronicles the history of Houston’s Riverside neighborhood. 

Beginning in the 1920s, Riverside Terrace, a subsection of Riverside, was settled by wealthy Jewish families who were blocked by anti-Semitic deed restrictions from home ownership in Houston’s elite River Oaks neighborhood. The neighborhood soon became the center of Jewish culture in Houston and was home to many influential Houston families, Jewish and non-Jewish alike. In 1952, Jack Caesar, a wealthy cattle rancher, became the first black homeowner to move to Riverside. Due to deed restrictions that blocked black Houstonians from purchasing homes in Riverside, Caesar instructed his white secretary to make the purchase in his name and then transfer the title to Caesar. White neighbors on Wichita Street pooled their money to try and buy Caesar out of his home, an offer he refused. Months later, a bomb was detonated on the porch of the Caesar family’s home. Unharmed and undeterred, the family remained in their home.

Through interviews with former and current residents of Riverside Terrace, This Is Our Home examines how anti-Semitism, racism, and profiteering shaped what was once one of the Houston’s most affluent neighborhoods. In particular, Schwartz’s work chronicles how, as the neighborhood became integrated in the 1960s, it was struck by real estate agent-driven blockbusting, white flight, and urban development projects. In the mid-1960s residents who hoped to maintain the neighborhood as an integrated community began a yard sign campaign that proclaimed “This Is Our Home, It Is Not for Sale.” 

By the 1970s, Riverside had become a predominately black neighborhood. It continued to be shaped by powerful factors including the construction of Texas State Highway 288, which necessitated the razing or relocation of homes and effectively split the neighborhood in two; the county’s decision to construct a psychiatric hospital in the area; and proximity to Texas Southern University and the University of Houston. The documentary ends with interviews with residents regarding the recent influx of white homeowners moving into Riverside.