Seeking Recognition

Salatheia Bryant, Houston Chronicle, Feb. 14

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Uzoh’s efforts are part of a growing movement among local African immigrants to establish stronger community alliances.

While previous efforts have stalled, members of one group, the African Coalition, say the latest effort is more focused.

“Why shouldn’t we be a recognizable group?” asks Philip Aitsebaomo, a local optometrist who joined four other members of the African Coalition last week for lunch at an African restaurant in a southwest Houston strip plaza owned by an African. “We want to be politically viable. We are important to the U.S. economy and we are being tossed aside. We want to put everyone on notice that we are coming.”

The group formed during the last mayoral race. Its goal is to get more African immigrants engaged in the political process, which could one day lead to the election of an African candidate. The group, which includes members from various African countries, lectured on the importance of voter registration and conducted block walks.

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To improve its chances of electing an African candidate, the Nigerian Union USA wants to develop a housing commission to increase home ownership for African immigrants in one location.

“We have not been able to penetrate in the system like the Asians and Latinos. If you look at City Hall, Africans are not holding offices,” Arowosafe said. “We’re trying to work hard to make our voice heard. We should be represented at the table because of the economy resources coming into Houston from Africa.”

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