Austin’s Rich African-American History On Display

The Austin History Center has a story tell you — it’s tales of the African-American community during Travis County’s first 100 years.  It’s called “Building a Community: The First Century of African-American Life in Travis County.”  The exhibit begins in 1839 when the county was found, followed by the end of slavery in 1865, and follows all the way through 1940. Many freed slaves opened up businesses around town.“We wanted to really start at the beginning and do a little more of an in depth exhibit,” Cynthia Evans with the Austin History said. “We looked at each decade and we wanted to show what was going on with the African-American community and what they were dealing with, things like racism with the KKK during the 1900s.”

Near the intersection of Brodie and Davis, Thomas Kincheon set up a farm in the late 1800s. At first it was just him and his family, but then other freed slaves moved there and the neighborhood became known as Kincheonville.

Another black enclave was Clarksville, just west of downtown.

“A lot of the people who settled that area used to be slaves that were owned by Governor Pease,” Evans said.

These kinds of neighborhoods, businesses and schools are the exhibit’s focus.

A photo taken of the Sam Houston College baseball team, a school was once located along Insterstate-35. Making the “then” and “now” comparisons is what makes this exhibit so interesting.

Evans wants people to appreciate the richness of the county’s African American history.

“Everyone contributes to the history of Texas and that story deserves to be told and told accurately,” she said.

The free exhibit will be up until March 2013. The Austin History Center is open to the public.

article by Jess Mitchell via

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