On My Block: 12th & Chicon

The area around 12th & Chicon streets is in the midst of a radical change that's been decades in the making. KUT is exploring what happens when a place becomes valuable to a new group of people.

For more, check out our website for the series or subscribe to the podcast on iTunes, Google Play or the direct feed.

Gabriel Cristóver Pérez / KUT

While Austin’s overall population has exploded over the past few decades, Austin’s black population has declined the past 20 years. From 2000 to 2010, African-Americans were the only racial group in Austin that saw a drop in numbers. Austin was also the only fast-growing city in the country that had a decrease in its black population during that stretch.

Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon / KUT

On the East Side, development and rising property costs continue to force the African-American community out. With such rapid migration, how have the neighborhood's history and culture and the city’s African-American population been preserved?

Gabriel Cristóver Pérez / KUT

Matthew Malcolm Kleinman and Andreas Mueller have fond memories of their childhood on the East Side.

“Old people used to sit on their porches and watch us, yelling at us while we were running through their yards, ‘Get off my grass!’” Matt laughs.

Gabriel Cristóver Pérez / KUT

At the beginning of KUT's 12th and Chicon project, we told the story of Anderson High School — a beacon of the black community in East Austin until its forced closure in 1971 as part of desegregation. But Anderson wasn’t the only neighborhood school to close. Kealing Junior High School did, too. It was reopened in the mid-1980s as a neighborhood school with a magnet program, but the tensions of the past still linger in the school’s hallways.

Kenisha Coburn is trying to change that. 

Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon / KUT

Pastor Clarence Jones has a meeting with a potential buyer in just a few minutes. He’s been having a lot of these meetings over the past two years, ever since church leaders decided to put the Greater Saint John Baptist Church up for sale.

“Hopefully it will sell and we can relocate,” he says, “so that’s what we’re looking forward to at this time.”

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