Explore Black History and Culture in Austin

The following guide is composed of a non-comprehensive selection of places, readings, and activities through which you can explore Austin’s Black history and culture. It includes museums, restaurants, historic landmarks, and parks, as well as various readings and articles covering topics relevant to this exhibition and Black history in Austin.

Places to visit

  • The African American Cultural Heritage Facility
    • Named after the state-designated African Cultural Heritage District, the African American Cultural and Heritage Facility adds to the area’s cultural significance by offering arts, business, cultural and entertainment programming. The building is currently closed to the public. 
  • Art Galleries at Black Studies: The University of Texas at Austin
    • The Black Studies collective at the University of Texas hosts two galleries, the Christian-Green Gallery and the Ideas Lab, that contain rotating exhibits showcasing various Black artists. Both galleries are free and open to the public. 
  • Downs Field 
    • Constructed in 1949 as a “separate but equal” alternative to the Whites-only Disch Field, Downs field served as the home for the Austin Black Senators, Autin’s Negro League team, and the home of the Huston-Tillotson baseball team. Prior to becoming a baseball field, the land originally served as the football field of L.C. Anderson High School, a majority-black high school located in East Austin.
  • Eastwoods Park
    • Eastwoods Park, formerly known as Wheeler’s Grove, was one of the first public locations to host a Juneteenth celebration, perhaps starting as early as 1900. 
  • Henry G. Madison Log Cabin 
    • Built in 1863, the cabin served as the home of Henry G. Madison, the former president of the Austin chapter Union League and Austin’s first African American City Council member. The home was dismantled, and relocated to Rosewood Park, a community park in East Austin. 
  • Hezikiah Haskell House
    • This home is located in Clarksville, a historically Black neighborhood located in central Austin, and represents the cultural roots and struggles of the former slaves who created Clarksville as an oasis of freedom, dignity, and community. 
  • Oakwood Cemetery 
    • As Austin’s oldest municipal cemetery, Oakwood Cemetery was originally segregated according to race and class. The cemetery holds the remains of several influential Black Austinites, such as L.C. Anderson and R.S. Lovinggood.
  • Texas African American History Memorial
    • Located on the grounds of the Texas State Capitol, the monument honors the many contributions of African Americans in Texas.
  • Texas Music Museum 
    • The current exhibit at the Texas Music Museum, The Contributions of East Austin African American Musicians to Texas Music, documents the influence and legacy of notable local Black artists on music in Texas
  • UT Center for Community Engagement
    • The building originally served as the headquarters of the Colored Teachers Association of Texas, and now serves as a multicultural engagement center and offers various programs and community initiatives aimed at student engagement and community-based learning.
  • The Victory Grill
    • A historic hub of Black music and nightlife, which previously hosted notable artists such as Etta James, Billie Holiday, and B.B. James.

Things to Do

  • Black Austin Tours
    • Dr. Wallace is an Austin native whose family roots in the Austin area stretch back as far as 200 years when his ancestors arrived in Texas as enslaved persons around 1820. As the founder of Black Austin Tours, Dr. Wallace offers a wide variety of tours that document the historical relationship of Black people in the City of Austin. 
  • Black History Bike Ride
    • A self-guided bike tour with two routes (murals and historical locations) that capture Black history and culture in the City of Austin. 
  • GreenbookATX
    • A guide to more than 200 Black-owned businesses in the Austin area. 

Additional Resources

  • Anderson High School Closed 45 Years Ago, but East Austin Still Feels Its Absence: KUT 90.5
    • This article discusses the closure of Anderson High School’s East Austin location and movement to Northwest Austin, as well as the lasting effects the movement had on the Black community in East Austin.
  • Desegregation in Austin: Austin History Center
    • A comprehensive timeline of the process of desegregating schools, businesses, public spaces, etc in the Austin area. 
  • Inheriting Inequality: The Austin American-Statesman
    • The various articles and resources produced by the Austin American-Statesman discuss historical race neighborhoods and communities in Austin, the adoption and outcome of the 1928 “Master Plan” by the city of Austin, and the racial inequalities present in Austin today.
  • Reckoning With the Past: The Untold Story of Race in Austin
    • This brief excerpt from the Neill-Cochran house website discusses the discovery of a slave residence on the historic property, as well as recent attempts to uncover and exhibit the history of the residence. The Neill-Cochran house is open to the public; tickets may be purchased via the website.
  • Racial Geography Tour: UT African and African Diaspora Department 
    • This digital self-guided tour explores the racial history and geography of The University of Texas at Austin’s campus.
  • The Origins of Clarksville: Clarksville Community Development Corporation 
    • This page explores the origins and development of Clarksville, a historic Black neighborhood in Austin, the threats against Clarksville and its inhabitants over time, and the present status of Clarksville today.
  • YouarehereATX
    • This website includes brief historical descriptions documenting the relationships between African Americans, Indigenous Peoples, Asian Americans, and Mexican Americans and the city of Austin.
  • To Elevate
    • This ArcGIS story map celebrates the legacy of Huston-Tillotson University by examining the history of each institution both before and after their merger and by showcasing the contributions of notable professors, faculty, and alumni of both institutions. To Elevate is produced by Greg Farrar, a descendant of R.S. Lovinggood.
  • To Emancipate
    • This ArcGIS story map centers on the experiences and stories of enslaved Black people in the Austin area, from slavery to freedom.
  • Oakwood Cemetery
    • Oakwood Cemetery’s website includes maps of the grounds, self-guided tours, and additional resources related to the cemetery grounds and the past lives of people buried within.
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