At the outbreak of the Civil War in 1861, 28% of the population of the City of Austin (977 men and women) was enslaved. Indeed, the birth and early growth of this city only occurred through the forced labor of the enslaved, conscripted by Edwin Waller as he moved towards the future national capital site in 1839, and brought by white Texans westward in the city’s first two decades.
And yet, the standard narrative of Austin’s early years has focused entirely on the stories and contributions of white (primarily) men, slaveholders themselves, like Waller, Abner Cook, and Marshall Pease, without even acknowledging the enslaved men and women who took Austin from concept to reality.
Reckoning with the Past is one example of a movement in contemporary Austin to begin to come to grips not only with the city’s history of enslavement, but with the ways in which race and equity have played a significant role throughout the city’s history. The exhibit will be open February 26, 2020 through May 3, 2020 at the Neill-Cochran House Museum, 2310 San Gabriel Street, Austin, Texas.