City of Austin apologizes for role in disenfranchising Black people

The city of Austin apologizes for its role in disenfranchising blacks

Austin City Council approved a resolution aimed at promoting racial reconciliation at the local, state, and federal levels.

In a unanimous vote on Thursday, Austin City Council passed a resolution officially apologizing for the city’s treatment of African Americans.

The resolution is sponsored by Mayor Pro Tem Natasha Harper-Madison, Mayor Steve Adler, Vanessa Fuentes, Greg Casar and Kathie Tovo. The aim is to eliminate the longstanding economic differences between the Black Austinites and their white counterparts.

“I’m tired of still living in East Austin, and I see that dogs have better quality of life than black children,” said Nook Turner of the Black Austin Coalition.

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“Item 67 is not only taking action to combat the horrors we have witnessed against our black community, it is also enabling black Austinites to regain power,” said Fuentes, District 2 of Austin City Council.

With the resolution, a black resource and cultural center is established. It also instructs the city administrator to work with the University of Texas and Huston-Tillotson University to conduct a study of the economic damage caused by the city’s historical discrimination.

“How many more studies do these people need? UT has done a lot of studies, we in the church have done a lot of studies, we made the popular plan,” said historian Dr. Fred McGhee.

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McGhee said the city needs guidance and action, not studies. “This resolution is basically the same as painting ‘Black Lives Matter’ on a street. It won’t change anything,” he said.

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He believes Black Austin’s historic plight continues to this day, with the population shrinking due to overpriced property and zoning changes.

“Even at the 2000 census, Austin still had a reasonable population that was more than 1/10 African American. At the 1930 census it was about 1/3, 30 percent of the population of Austin was black. That was after the Master of 1928 Plan, “said McGhee. He is confident that the city can look closely at the action plans and initiate this dialogue immediately.

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“Right now we are on an information tour and are taking this opportunity to make the discoveries necessary to determine what is our best way to go,” said Harper-Madison, District 1.

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