Austin honors barrier-breaking Black firefighter who died in line of duty


AUSTIN (KXAN) — Did you know the Austin Fire Department was the first department in the state of Texas to hire Black firefighters?

Friday, the Austin Fire Department will honor Nathaniel “Nat” Kindred not only for his service to the city, but also because he paved the way for many Black firefighters after him.

In 1952, three firefighters including Kindred broke the color barrier in the state when they joined AFD.

Kindred went on to serve 24 years before dying from a heart attack while responding to a house fire in 1977.

His service and bravery to step out of the norm continues to inspire others as well.

“Nathaniel Kindred, Willie Ray Davie and Roy Reed and they were the first three African Americans in the state to become firefighters,” said AFD Assistant Chief Richard Davis. “I have always had this quote I used to say that the journey of many starts with the courage of a few, and these three individuals were the few that took those steps to move forward so the rest of us could follow and come through.”

A ceremony will be held at 9 a.m. Friday to unveil a plaque in Kindred’s honor.

A plaque honoring one of Austin's first Black firefighters will be unveiled at 9 a.m. Friday. (KXAN photo)
A plaque honoring one of Austin’s first Black firefighters will be unveiled at 9 a.m. Friday. (KXAN photo)

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