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Desegregation in Austin

Five Decades of Social Change: A Timeline

This web project presents an annotated chronology of major events in the desegregation of Austin, Texas, from 1940 to 1980 as they appeared in local newspapers and other materials such as the Austin Files (AF) in the archives at the Austin History Center, Austin Public Library. The timeline is intended as a guide to key events necessary for an understanding of this extraordinary time in the city’s history.



Local African American firsts Local African American firsts
University of Texas at Austin (UT) facts University of Texas at Austin (UT) facts
Local desegregation facts Local desegregation facts
Statewide desegregation facts Statewide desegregation facts
National desegregation facts National desegregation facts

Note: The Austin American-Statesman newspaper had several name changes over the five decades covered in this timeline. The variations reflect usage for that time—Austin Statesman, The Austin Statesman, The Austin-Statesman, The Austin American, The Austin American-Statesman, American Statesman, The American-Statesman, Austin American-Statesman.

overview | 1940s | 1950s | 1960s | 1970s | 1980s | all


Local desegregation facts University of Texas and Huston-Tillotson College students picket Piccadilly Cafeteria in downtown Austin for not serving African Americans. [AF-Segregation-Public Schools-S1700 (2)-1960s; The Austin Statesman, “Downtown Cafeteria Picketed,” February 14, 1964]
Statewide desegregation facts Houston public swimming pools integrate, June 7th. Houston Mayor Lewis Cutrer orders that Houston municipal pools be open to blacks. The city had already desegregated all public buildings in 1962. Parks and municipal golf courses had previously been opened to all races. City pools are the last of the municipal facilities to eliminate segregation. [Scrapbook Collection: News Clippings Recreation Department 1963; AR Z.025]
Local desegregation facts Follow this link to Austin History Center photograph PICB 00028 Harry Akins, owner of the Night Hawk Restaurants Inc. of Austin and San Antonio, met with a group of Austin restaurant owners to discuss integration. Seventeen of the restaurant owners signed pledges to make their facilities available to all persons “regardless of race, color or creed.” Akins is one of 100 business men from around the nation-and five from Texas-who attended the White House conference on the need for greater integration of facilities available to the public. When at the conference U.S. Attorney General Robert Kennedy read the list of Texas cities that have made considerable progress in the integration of public facilities, Austin was not among them. [AF-Segregation-Public Schools-S1700 (2)-1960s; The Austin Statesman, “City Restaurants Sign Integrate Pact,” June 06, 1963]
Local desegregation facts Follow this link to Austin History Center photograph AS-60-27281-8 The Austin Chamber of Commerce adopts a resolution recommending the “immediate and complete integration of all public facilities.” [AF-Segregation-Public Schools-S1700 (2)-1960s; The Austin Statesman, “City Action Is Praised,” June 13, 1963]
Local desegregation facts The Austin School Board lifts the remaining barriers to complete integration. [AF-Segregation-Public Schools-S1700 (2)-1960s; The Austin Statesman, “Grades 1 Through 12 Affected in September,” June 15, 1963]
Local desegregation facts The Austin Ice Palace at 3800 Airport Blvd. removes “white only” policy. [AF-Segregation-Public Schools-S1700 (2)-1960s; The Austin-American, “Rink Drops Racial Bars,” June 19, 1963]
Local desegregation facts Follow this link to Austin History Center photograph PICA 10683 Citywide playgrounds are integrated quietly and smoothly during the summer season. For the first time, Rosewood Recreation District (the African American district) participates in all citywide events. Black and white players compete together in baseball tournaments. [AF-Segregation-Public Schools-S1700 (2)-1960s; The Austin Statesman, “Integration of City’s Playgrounds Smooth,” September 24, 1963]