HOUSTON, Nov. 27, 2018 /PRNewswire/ -- Earlier this month, CITGO Petroleum Corporation sponsored the inaugural Independence Heights Festival, a celebration of Houston's culturally rich Independence Heights community, the first independently incorporated African American Municipality in Texas. The event, which coincided with the annual Preserving Communities of Color Conference, highlighted the unique experiences of African American life and the contributions of the Independence Heights community to Houston's cultural fabric.

CITGO has been an active participant in the redevelopment of Independence Heights as it emerges from damage caused by Hurricane Harvey. Through its overarching disaster relief initiative "Fueling Good. Rebuilding Lives.," CITGO is donating up to $6 million to repair 300 homes in the community over the next three years.

"At CITGO, we place special emphasis on community relations," said Larry Elizondo, CITGO General Manager Community Relations, Corporate Social Responsibility and Legislative Affairs. "Whether that means helping out in the challenging times – like hurricane relief – or celebrating the good times, CITGO is there for the communities where we live and work. So, when Independence Heights Redevelopment Council approached us about the festival, we jumped at the opportunity."

The Festival celebrated the past, present and future of the African American experience while specifically emphasizing Independence Heights. The festival worked in collaboration with local businesses, thought leaders, politicians and representatives from African American communities across America.

Activities at the festival included musical and dance performances from national and local talent, interactive learning experiences, cultural heritage foodways, art and STEM projects, and a market with local artisans and community resources. The Festival was highlighted by the kickoff of the North Main Street Heritage Corridor. The heritage corridor is a multiphase initiative that will serve as a piece of a national trail of historic African American towns and settlements across America.

"We were incredibly proud to contribute to the heritage corridor and celebrations," added Elizondo. "We hope that this piece of the national trail inspires others to continue celebrating diversity and preserving the history of African American communities in the United States."

Headquartered in Houston, Texas, CITGO Petroleum Corporation is a recognized leader in the refining industry with a well-known brand. CITGO operates three refineries located in Corpus Christi, Texas; Lake Charles, La.; and Lemont, Ill., and wholly and/or jointly owns 48 terminals, nine pipelines and three lubricants blending and packaging plants. With approximately 3,400 employees and a combined crude capacity of approximately 749,000 barrels-per-day (bpd), CITGO is ranked as the sixth-largest, and one of the most complex independent refiners in the United States. CITGO transports and markets transportation fuels, lubricants, petrochemicals and other industrial products and supplies a network of approximately 5,200 locally owned and operated branded retail outlets in 30 states and the District of Columbia. CITGO Petroleum Corporation is owned by CITGO Holding, Inc., an indirect wholly owned subsidiary of Petróleos de Venezuela, S.A., the national oil company of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela.