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A black family in Texas is fighting back for to preserve the agricultural lands they have owned for generations amid plans to widen US Highway 183 Houston Chronicle reports.

Descendants of Daniel AlexanderA slave who received 73.3 acres of land from his owners in 1847 is concerned that part of their property near Austin-Bergstrom International Airport will soon be taken by transportation officials to widen the highway and relieve congestion south of Austin.

“Our 175-year presence. This is our house,” he said Rosalind Alexander-Kasparyk, a fifth-generation descendant of Alexander who was born and raised on earth, according to the Chronicle. “Here is our life, blood, dreams and aspirations. These acres, purchased by (our) great-great-grandfather and his mother, are our identity and heritage, as well as everything that surrounds us.’

The Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) originally seized part of the family farm in 1968 for the construction of Route 183.

Now that the department is looking to increase the number of lanes from four to 12, an additional 400 feet of the family’s property could be taken away, potentially destroying historic homes and the unmarked graves of their relatives.

TxDOT first notified the family of its intention to increase the number of US 183 lanes in November 2019.

Since then, the family continues to defend its historic land.

According to Alexander-Kasparik, TxDOT has promised to consider other alternatives for the widening, such as using FM 973, but their land is still up for grabs.

“This is unacceptable,” Alexander-Kasparyk said about the possible capture.

Diane Hodgesdirector of communications for Southwest Texas TxDOT, said the feasibility study for the highway expansion was put on hold for a while but only recently resumed.

The start of work with the public and in-depth research is planned for the end of this year.

According to The Chronicle, Daniel Alexanderwho lived from 1810 to 1883, taught African Americans in the region to ride horses for work and competition.

Alexandra-Kasparik said her ancestor’s training helped others escape slavery on horseback.

“This is one of the most incredible discoveries about my great-great-grandfather,” Alexander-Kasparik told The Chronicle. “Each facet seems to show the persistence of an ancestor; it is important to the community, the city of Austin, the state of Texas and the nation.”

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