In addition to activities at the conference and on the University campus, we encourage conference attendees to explore the rest of the city.
Below are some suggested activities and neighborhoods to check out!
Austin’s Freedmen’s Communities
Mention the neighborhood of Clarksville, and you may receive recommendations to dine at Jeffrey’s or Cipollina. But before it was known as a hip, wealthy area of Austin, Clarksville was home to a self-reliant, working-class community of Black residents. One of the oldest freedmen’s communities west of the Mississippi, Clarksville was founded by Charles Clark after Emancipation in 1871. A place for formerly enslaved peoples to gain agency over their families and lives, the town constructed spaces that eventually became pillars of communal life. Although gentrification has changed the face of Clarksville, some of those spaces still remain. Formerly a residential home, the Haskell House serves as a small museum dedicated to the neighborhood’s long history, and Sweet Home Missionary Baptist Church still stands as a beacon of Clarksville’s perseverance long after its construction in the 1880s. While Clarksville is definitely the city’s most notable freedmen’s community, it is one of many. The Robert S. Stanley House and St. Annie AME Church in Brackenridge, and the Barton Springs Baptist Church Cemetery stand as testaments to once thriving Black communities located across Austin.
While you’re in town, make sure to visit Six Square, Austin’s Black Cultural District. Six Square houses a network of historically Black neighborhoods, businesses, and cultural spaces that are popular with tourists and locals alike. From exhibitions featuring local artists to displays about Juneteenth, the George Washington Carver Museum and Cultural and Genealogy Center is a leading institution dedicated to preserving and collecting African American historical and cultural material. Huston-Tillotson University, Austin’s Historically Black College and University (HBCU), is just a few blocks away and is one of the city’s earliest institutions of higher learning. Keep an eye out for their public programming – you won’t want to miss it. From Micklethwait Craft Meats to Roland’s Soul Food and Fish, some of the best eateries can be found within the enclave of Six Square and East Austin as a whole. Whether you’re looking for something casual or upscale, East Austin has a diverse array of restaurants and bars that will please even the pickiest of eaters. If you’re interested in learning more about the area, visit Six Square’s website or headquarters to book a walking tour of Central East Austin.
Austin’s vibrant downtown houses a number of exemplary restaurants, entertainment venues, and cultural institutions. Wander around the Texas Capitol to soak in the state’s history. Take a free tour of the building, go see the newly erected Texas African American History Memorial. Peruse The Contemporary Austin’s latest dynamic exhibition, or travel out to their outdoor sculpture park at Laguna Gloria. Tour around Mexic-Arte’s space and learn more about their collection of traditional and contemporary Mexican, Latino, and Latin American art. Catch a movie at the Alamo Drafthouse, or if you’d prefer live entertainment, watch a performance at the Paramount Theatre. There’s always something happening downtown, so make sure to check out event listings to catch amazing events and performances.
This year’s Black Studies Conference aligns with the tail-end of South by Southwest’s (SXSW) multi-venue festival and conference. For 9 days, attendees will be treated to numerous concerts, immersive art installations, film screenings, networking opportunities, and more. While some SXSW events require badges or passes, other official or satellite events simply require that attendees sign-up beforehand for free. To learn more about SXSW, visit their website, and make sure to keep an eye out for activity on Facebook or Austin eventscalendars.