As the world turns to new tech and entertainment developments at Austin, Texas’ South by Southwest (SxSW) arts and media festival this week, one local Latinx chronicles a frequently overlooked part of the city’s fabric—its long-standing Black and Latinx communities—via Instagram.
#34YearsAgo February 19, 1983: After the Austin City Council voted to give the Ku Klux Klan permission to march in downtown Austin, an Anti-Klan march was organized by concerned black and brown citizens and organizations and their white allies. Over 2,000 anti-racist protesters surrounded the Klan during their 10-block march from a city park to the Texas State Capitol and back. The marchers included members of the Brown Berets, The Black Citizens Task Force, Austin Lesbian Gay Political Caucus, and the John Brown Anti-Klan Committee. During the march a television news crew captured several Austin Police officers beating two Brown Berets members (Adela Mancias and Paul Hernandez) with their clubs.
ATX Barrio Archive creator and archivist Alan Garcia told Remezcla on Friday (March 10) that he developed the account last August to capture a history that the city’s rapid gentrification threatens to erase. "The thing that really bothers me is that there is no time to document what was there," he says. "There’s no interest in respecting what was there and what is being destroyed."
Who remembers Acapulco Video on East 7th!? One of the earliest Spanish-language video stores in Austin, Acapulco Video was opened by Jorge and Juana Espinosa in 1986. : My father’s Acapulco Video membership card, issued shortly after immigrating to Austin in 1988. By 2014 Acapulco Video and other neighboring small businesses were demolished for the construction of the high-end 7East Apartments.
The history he seeks to archive and publicize ranges from grassroots activist actions, like this 1969 photo of a Chicano-led strike and march, to everyday depictions of Black and Brown cultural life, such as this undated black-and-white picture of Black restaurant owners in the kitchen.
Garcia added that he hopes putting these photos on Instagram will make them more accessible to the residents of color who might not otherwise have access to archival information. "I’m trying to bridge that gap between what is normally available to people in privileged positions and trying to bring it back to the barrios where I believe it belongs, and where it has the most use—because the people in these neighborhoods, the people who have seen so much change, are really the keepers of this history," he says.
Those who live in or are visiting Austin this month can see many of ATX Barrio Archive’s materials at an exhibit at George Washington Carver Museum & Cultural Center, on display through the end of March.