African American News and Genealogy

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Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Reflections of Black Austin

African Americans helped in molding cityWednesday, February 22, 2006 An earlier version of this story contained an error. Go to our Corrections page for a full explanation. The first black man to lay eyes on the rocky steppes that eventually became Austin might have been Estevanico — known as "the Moor" in history books — who traveled through Texas with Cabeza de Vaca in 1528. But three more centuries passed before the first documented arrival of black people here, with a work crew that began laying out the new capital of the Republic of Texas in 1839. There had been legal impediments to slavery under Spanish and Mexican rule, and Texas was a place where some African Americans could grab and hold for themselves a measure of freedom. All that changed after Texas won its independence, and welcomed an influx of slave-holding settlers. Emancipation came notoriously late in Texas, and it was entrepreneurial former slaves who became many of Austin's most prominent black citizens: land developers, newspaper publishers, religious and political leaders, business owners, educators, physicians. In recent times, concern has been raised for the future of the community they built. That concern last year led the City Council to adopt a plan for improving the quality of life of African Americans in Austin. Meanwhile, here are just a few of the people, places and events taken from the album of black history in Austin. Full Story: http://www.statesman.com/life/content/life/stories/other/02/20AAcutlines.html

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