Every city has a unique story to tell, and Austin is no different. And with its rich history, diverse culture and vibrant communities, Austin's story is bound to leave you with something memorable. Black Austin Tours is dedicated to ensuring that Black histories, experiences and contributions are included in Austin's narrative. Founder and Guide, Javier Wallace, provides both in-person and virtual experiences that shed light on the city's hard truths, including those about some of our most visited places like Barton Springs, Zilker Park and the Texas State Capitol Building. By leaning about the past, Black Austin Tours helps hold the city accountable and ensure that visitors have a better understanding of the city, sites and spaces they are visiting. Understanding the history of a place is crucial to fully appreciate it in the present.

Image of Javier Wallace of Black Austin Tours giving a tour outside of the Texas State Capitol building.
Courtesy of Austin Football Club.

Telling The Stories

Many people don't know that the City of Austin deliberately used zoning practices to shape the city's racial geography, including how green spaces would be incorporated to increase Austin’s appeal to visitors. Areas such as Barton Springs Pool and Zilker Park became coveted White spaces, which excluded racialized minorities. The Black population was excluded from its use, and the non-Black Mexican-American community was occasionally allowed access to the facilities on special occasions like Easter.

Under the tutelage of Separate but Equal in the Jim Crow South, the City of Austin modestly invested in segregated parks in East Austin, like Rosewood Park and Zaragoza ParkAustin has come a long way since then, thanks to local activists like Black Austinite, Azie Taylor Morton, who was the first and only Black person to hold U.S. Treasurer from 1977-1981. In the 1960s, she and other Black youth staged “swim-ins” at the racially segregated Barton Springs Pool. Their protest encouraged the City of Austin to desegregate these facilities in 1962.

Unfortunately, Austin has a history of excluding Black people from many spaces and its larger history. It’s impossible to call Austin the Live Music Capital of the World® and not center the conversation around African-Americans who made a serious impact on Austin’s deep music background. And locally owned venues like Victory Grill that is one of the last remaining original Chitlin' Circuit juke joints. The same can be said about the city's delicious food scene and the contributions of Black people to Austin's mouth-watering barbecue culture.

Black Austin Tours Guide and Founder Javier Wallace wearing logo shirt in Austin Texas
Black Austin Tours Guide and Founder Javier Wallace. Credit Nicole Renfro.

About Black Austin Tours

Black Austin Tours believes that there’s a responsibility to address these issues and not revert to silencing. Residents and visitors should be attuned to the emotional ties Black Austinites have to physical spaces and institutions. Austin’s visitors can make a positive impact and help preserve the city’s rich cultural heritage by asking question like “Who was there before me to make, it possible for me to enjoy this space?" and "How can I meaningfully contribute to this community?"

Black Austin Tours offers both in-person tours and virtual experiences. They welcome guests from around the globe to visit Austin and lean a deeper meaningful behind the city's beauty. For more information, to purchase tours and to stay abreast of Austin’s history that centers on Black people, follow @BlackAustinTours on social media and check out the website www.BlackAustinTours.com.

Contributed by Javier Wallace, Black Austin Tours