AUSTIN (KXAN) — Austin is diverse in a lot of ways but lacks Black professionals.
The Austin Area Urban League said it’s because there’s not enough thought being put into culture and entertainment — what happens outside of work — to keep people here.
Less than 10% of Austin’s population is Black, according to U.S. Census Bureau statistics. The Urban League said the conversation should be centered around equity, access and job opportunities. Connected to that are culture and entertainment — factors that do impact the quality of life.
Motor City Entertainment, a part of the Urban League, has organized different events to give Black people places to go and things to do where they feel more connected to their culture.
That’s anything ranging from comedy shows to concerts. R&B artists Monica, Ginuwine and Tank kicked off the series of entertainment, performing at the H-E-B Center Mother’s Day Weekend 2022.
Since then, Motor City has put on five events, bringing out thousands.
“I consider myself to be an activist and advocate for Black life and that includes entertainment,” Rachel Lauren with Motor City said. “This is why I have been working to bring shows to Austin that speak to our community.”
There aren’t a lot of places you can go in Austin, where you see mostly Black people all in one place, grooving to R&B classics.
“It was just a good time just having something different,” Tesleigh Eure said. She’s been to multiple events through the Urban League, which is working to retain Black professionals.
“You have to understand the city is so big, that we’re all just kind of like scattered. You’re just going to work, you’re not connecting with people, you’re not really finding things that you’re interested in,” Eure said. “So you come, and you leave.”
“There’s a disparity in how our community has been supported, served and resourced,” President and CEO of the Urban League Quincy Dunlap said.
Measure, an Austin-based nonprofit that does research on racial disparities, conducted a survey in May 2022. It found 80% of Black people who leave Austin said they felt a lack of belonging.
The findings motivate the Urban League to bring more Black culture to the city.
“We’re going to have some fun, but we’re going to party with a purpose,” Dunlap said. “And there’s always going to be some service program or special initiative attached to why we do what we do.”
Take their next big major event for example: Frankie Beverly and the Isley Brothers will be performing on Martin Luther King Jr. weekend.
The Urban League will be gifting tickets to parents who are involved with their kids’ PTA programs. It’s an effort to promote the importance of being involved with Black youth.
Eure thinks these events are already making an impact.
“We just need it, I think we’re hungry for it,” Eure said.
Austin’s population is one of the fastest growing in the country, but its Black population continues to decline.
Eighty-four percent of Black Austinites who responded to the Measure survey said engaging with the community is important. However, a little over half feel they actually are able to do that in Austin.