Austin Justice Coalition: Austin Has Given Black Community a ‘Bad Check’

Austin Justice Coalition Executive Director Chas Moore speaking at State of Black Austin Address.

‘When the architects of our great republic wrote the magnificent words of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, they were signing a promissory note to which every Anerican was to fall heir…It is obvious today that America has defaulted on this promissory note insofar as her citizens of color are concerned. Instead of honoring this sacred obligation, America has given its colored people a bad check, a check that has come back marked “insufficient funds.” — Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Chas Moore, Executive Director of the Austin Justice Coalition, expressed disappointment stating that Austin hasn’t adequately improved the lives of its Black residents, as outlined in a 2008 African American Quality of Life Initiative final report. This report detailed over 50 suggestions covering education, healthcare, housing, and economic opportunities. However, Moore noted minimal progress over the past decade.

Measure, a local research group, conducted a year-long study, revealing the city’s failure to fulfill its commitments. Meme Styles, Measure’s President, criticized the city’s lack of communication and implementation regarding the 2008 recommendations. For instance, despite a recommendation to partner with Huston-Tillotson University for job access, no such initiatives were found.

“What we found through our research is that, historically, the city of Austin’s efforts to improve the quality of life for its Black residents have relied on isolated initiatives rather than a cohesive, long-term strategy … that actually addresses the root causes of structural racism and enduring accountability,” Styles said.

She added that Measure struggled to assess progress since the 2008 report due to a lack of communication from and data collection by the city.

It is disheartening to witness the persistent neglect of the African American community in Austin

Demographic census data has documented that Austin is the only major growth city (a city with over half a million people that saw at least 10 percent growth between 2000 and 2010) that experienced an absolute loss in its African-American population (UT Austin 2014). The Census reported a significant decrease from an 11.9% share in 1990, to 9.8% in 2000, and finally to a low of 7.7% reported in 2010.

“It is disheartening to witness the persistent neglect of the African American community in Austin,” Moore remarked. “The recommendations made in 2008 remain unfulfilled, and it is time for the city to confront its failure to address the deeply rooted issues that continue to plague our community.”


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