East Austin Black History Project

East Austin Black History Project

Cowboy House

East End Cultural Heritage District Project

The East Austin Black History Project is a community-driven multidisciplinary initiative to document and promote the rich cultural history of Central East Austin’s African American community from its beginnings in the mid-1800s to the present and beyond. The wide-ranging content of this documentation celebrates the neighborhood’s heritage through words, images and sound, including oral histories, with a cogent and exhaustive body of new research and writing, existing archival materials, and the development of new primary source materials.
The vehicle to present the work of our historical research group will be a website where we will amass a collection of multimedia and narrative material. The site will be produced by the Digital Archive Project, a component of EABHP.
We will look at the Central East Austin community through the following windows:

  1. Arts, Culture and Music
  2. Politics and Civic Engagement
  3. Redevelopment and Gentrification
  4. Schools and Education
  5. Religion and Churches
  6. Neighborhoods and Streets
  7. Historic Sites and Architecture
  8. Entrepreneurship and Commerce 

Students and Tower

Our group is composed of professionals and upper-division and graduate level university students with interest in and aptitude for high-quality cultural history/cultural anthropological research and writing. Others involved will include professionals and students from the various fields of information science, cultural/historic preservation, new media, film/photography, web design and architecture, and other related fields.
In our research, we will collect and compile materials currently found in a number of public repositories, however we will also discover and develop new primary sources found outside of mainstream scholarly and public institutions. Further, we will develop new primary source materials and produce original writing that analyzes and reports our findings in topical narratives with historical focus.
The materials from this project will appeal to the general public as well as scholars, present & future Austin residents, and cultural tourists interested in local, state and national history. The success of the project will be enhanced through strategic partnerships with local archives and historical/cultural organizations in Austin (Austin History Center, Huston-Tillotson University, Austin Convention and Visitor’s Bureau, Cultural Arts Division of Austin, French Legation Museum, etc).
Because of the very nature of this work, we envision that the EABHP will be an ongoing research and publishing project that will span a number of years.



Project Principals of the East Austin Black History Project

  • Harold McMillan, project director, is the founder/director of DiverseArts, an Austin nonprofit producer of multidisciplinary art and culture projects and programs. Involved and active in Austin's art and music community for the past 20 years, he is known primarily for his efforts to provide access and exposure to traditions derived from African American Culture and other forms of artistic expression outside the classical European tradition. He holds a BSW in Social Work from East Texas State University (now Texas A&M-Commerce), and has graduate training in Administration and Planning from the Graduate School of Social Work, University of Texas at Austin; and a Master of Arts in American Civilization from the University of Texas at Austin. In addition to his ongoing work as Director of DiverseArts, McMillan was a visiting scholar at the University of Texas as part of the UT Humanities Institute Community Sabbatical Fellowship program and has also served on City of Austin work groups, task forces, and committees including the African American Quality of Life Initiative Planning Process. In 2007, McMillan was inducted into the Austin Arts Hall of Fame.
  • Michael Hurd, editor, is a journalist and historian who has researched, written and edited stories covering diverse topics for both print and web publications. His research has focused on black history and black college sports history. He has been a sportswriter for USA Today and the Austin American-Statesman, as well as an editorial producer for Yahoo Sports, and has authored two books on black college football, including, “Black College Football, 1892-1992,” the only book that comprehensively documents the histories and legacies of football programs at historically black colleges. He is a native of Texarkana, Texas, a Vietnam veteran, and a graduate (journalism) of the University of Texas at Austin.
  • Craig Campbell, academic consultant, is an assistant professor of folklore and public culture in the University of Texas at Austin Department of Anthropology.  He is also associated with the Américo Paredes Center for Cultural Studies, and is currently active as the principal curator and director of the Ethnographic Terminalia project – an initiative to advance research-based art, experimental ethnography, and public anthropology, an example of which is the art exhibition in New Orleans, “Art Spill: Disaster, Art, Activism and Recovery.” He has a Ph.D. in theory and culture from the University of Alberta, where he was also the co-ordinator and manager of the Intermedia Research Studio, and is currently developing an Intermedia Ethnography Lab in the anthropology department at UT. 
  • Martha Norkunas, humanities advisor, holds a Ph.D. in Folklore from Indiana University’s Folklore Institute. She is the author of The Politics of Public Memory: Tourism, History and Ethnicity in Monterey, California (SUNY Press, 1993) and Monuments and Memory: History and Representation in Lowell, Massachusetts (Smithsonian Institution Press, 2002/ Rowman and Littlefield Publishers, 2006). From 1999-2009 Norkunas directed the Project in Interpreting the Texas Past (ITP) at the University of Texas at Austin where she taught interdisciplinary teams of graduate students to think critically about memory, history, and culture and to apply their knowledge to social and cultural issues, including creating more diverse and inclusive interpretations at Texas historic sites. ITP produced award winning films, web sites, exhibits, educational material, posters, brochures, oral history booklets, an in-depth oral history project with African Americans in Texas, and an oral history project exploring race and identity among college students.  In August 2009 Norkunas became Professor of Oral and Public History at Middle Tennessee State University in Mufreesboro, Tennessee, where she directs the African American Oral History Project. Her current research involves listening, racial memory, and the relationship between familial memory and history.
  • Mike Gilbert has been affiliated with DiverseArts since 2007, initially providing artwork and event production guidance before joining the DiverseArts Board in 2010. Mike continues to be a regular contributor of graphic design, writing and web programming to DiverseArts. Mike currently serves as Production Manager for Crush Advertising, overseeing all aspects of print/online production and vendor management for the agency. Prior to joining Crush, Mike held positions at Texas Monthly and a number of smaller local magazines, as well as various advertising agencies and print vendors. In the 1990s Mike operated a successful freelance design business, and still retains a handful of private clients and their respective Web sites. Over the course of his career, Mike has delivered stellar work for clients including Southwestern University, Austin Energy, Texas Parks & Wildlife, LCRA, Capital Metro, Truluck's, Austin Java, The Bob Bullock State History Museum and the UT Performing Arts Center. Mike graduated from Texas State University with a Bachelor of Arts many, many years ago.
  • Stephanie M. Resendez, website consultant, is a local freelance Austin artist. Experience includes portrait photographer, film photographer for Austin based companies, event planner assistant, website developer and graphic designer for DiverseArts Culture Works, and website developer and graphic designer for individuals promoting their businesses. She also has collaborated in the illustration of a children’s book with a local Austin teacher. During her studies at the university, she maintained several computer labs, provided support to students and staff on computer applications and hardware and developed application based tutorials. She is a graduate from Saint Edward’s University with a degree in Photocommunications and a minor in Graphic Design.