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Black community leaders join forces to address systemic racism in Central Texas

The group plans to "advance a vision and agenda for Black Austin that calls for actions and outcomes to improve the Black-lived experience."

AUSTIN, Texas — According to the Austin Justice Coalition (AJC), a diverse group of Black community leaders in the Austin area have joined together to "advance a vision and agenda for Black Austin that calls for actions and outcomes to improve the Black-lived experience."

In a press release issued on Tuesday, the coalition said the group was formed as a result of the police killings of George Floyd and Mike Ramos. It states they hope to widen the wealth gap and other racial disparities in health, education and justice in the Austin leaders. They will aim to create "an intersectional, intergenerational, and transformative movement that will sustain itself for seven generations and beyond."

“Before the 1928 Negro plan, Black people in Central Texas had land, businesses, schools and homes – we had a sense of community and continuity. We had economic power. That has been stripped away and is continuously denied by racist policies and practices in the public and private sector,” said Nook Turner, community leader and founder of Black Austin Coalition that focuses on economic development and community building.

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Throughout the rest of the year, the collective plans to focus on building the capacity of current Black-led organizations across Central Texas and to address systemic racism. Its immediate efforts will include creating an accountability plan, fundraising and education and training for area leaders on strategies to overcome systemic racism.

“We are creating a mechanism for change that is Black-conceived and Black-led to define the priorities of the Black diaspora in Central Texas. Our goal is to sustain meaningful action that will change the outcomes for Black people. There have already been enough well-documented studies and well-intentioned plans that have gone unfulfilled. Our community recognizes this is the time to act and hold our public and private sector leaders and institutions accountable,” said Meme Styles, founder of MEASURE, an organization that provides free data and evaluation support to other Black- and Brown-led organizers and organizations.

According to the AJC, segregationist policies and a lack in community investment have resulted in an exodus of Black Austin residents in the past several decades. A report from the Institution for Urban Policy Research & Analysis said some of the main reasons include housing affordability and limited educational opportunities for their children.

“Black culture is important to this city,” said Colette Pierce Burnette, EdD, president of Huston-Tillotson University, a historically Black university in East Austin. “If we don’t do the work to ensure the Black community’s viability, our entire region loses.” 

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The Black Leaders Collective is welcoming to more support from additional Black leaders and allies.

“This movement by our Black leaders from Austin, Manor, Pflugerville and Round Rock makes me more hopeful for all of us,” said Nelson Linder, president of the NAACP-Austin Chapter. “We, as a group, represent the next step in the civil rights movement and the fight for justice and equality. We are building on our ancestors’ legacy.”

Members of the collective include:

  • Audrey Amos-McGehee, Williamson County Black Democrats 
  • Kelene Blake-Fallon, Black Mamas ATX 
  • Jamarr Brown, Black Austin Democrats 
  • Steve Brown, Givens Board 
  • President Colette Pierce Burnette, EdD, Huston-Tillotson University 
  • Eric Byrd, Community Leader
  • Chaka, Riders Against the Storm 
  • Ryan Coaxum, Community Banker 
  • Hon. Sheryl Cole 
  • Donell Creech, Soulciti and Griot Media 
  • Virginia Cumberbatch, Rosa Rebellion 
  • Donald Dallas, Community Leader 
  • Tarik Daniels, What’s in the Mirror and Center for Health Empowerment
  •  Quincy Dunlap, Austin Area Urban League 
  • Roxanne Evans, East Austin Coalition for Quality Education 
  • Kendra Garrett, Community Leader 
  • Tam Hawkins, Greater Austin Black Chamber of Commerce 
  • Reese Herd, Community Leader 
  • Nelson Linder, NAACP-Austin Chapter 
  • Hon. Natasha Harper Madison 
  • Bobbie Mack, Goals Chasers 
  • Fatima Mann, JD, Community Advocacy & Healing Project 
  • Sheri Marshall, National Council of Negro Women 
  • Hon. Rudolph “Rudy” K. Metayer 
  • Terry P. Mitchell, Entrepreneur 
  • Christina Muhammad, Nation of Islam and 10K Fearless Responders 
  • Chas Moore, Austin Justice Coalition 
  • Pamela Owens, Six Square – Austin’s Black Cultural District 
  • Courtney Robinson, PhD, Excellence and Advancement Foundation 
  • Shuronda Robinson, Adisa Communications 
  • Elle Smith, Central Texas GSA Coalition and Queering Education 
  • Rose Smith, Black Women in Business 
  • Yasmine Smith, Attorney 
  • Meme Styles, Measure 
  • Dianne Thompson, Williamson County Black Democrats 
  • Hon. Jeff Travillion 
  • Nook Turner, Jump On It and Black Austin Coalition 
  • K. Paul Wallace, Community Leader 
  • Hon. Larry Wallace Jr. 
  • Cluren Williams, Community Leader 
  • Jaquita Wilson, Community Leader

For more information, reach out to leadership@BlackLeadersCollectiveATX.com.

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