New artwork at 12th and Chicon Streets will highlight east Austin history

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AUSTIN (KXAN) — East Austin is a hub for much of the city’s African-American history. Community members are working to make sure the neighborhood’s resilience is not forgotten as the city grows and the area gentrifies.

Current photographs and artwork at the bus stop located at 12th and Chicon Streets are weathered and cracked, some photos even missing from the frames. Capital Metro and community partners are working to give the bus stop a meaningful make-over.

The future art installation will showcase about 30 images that highlight Austin’s African-American community through the years—from the first African-American woman to settle in the city, to celebrating the delicious cooking of native east Austinite Hoover Alexander. Nefertiti Jackmon of Six Square had a hand in selecting the photos. “When we’ve been going through the pictures, people are actually telling the stories and it rings a bell, ‘oh we need to tell this story.'”

She thinks many residents and visitors will learn something new about the East End District from the art. “People who are new to the area and younger people will be surprised about the number of businesses that existed,” she says.”Even though many have moved away from this area, there’s still a resilience and hope we want to share and acknowledge the accomplishments and achievements of the people who have lived here.”

Community involvement specialist for Capital Metro, Jordan Smith, says the agency made a commitment in 2003 to do their part in preserving the past. “Out of respect for them, we want to make sure we are living up to our side of the promise by making sure this bus stop continues to be a vibrant part of their community,” says Smith.

Jackmon, Smith and community members have been working for about a year to select which stories will be shared.

“Not only show the important past but show there has been a dynamic community living in this area for many years,” says Jackmon.

The entire project is expected to be completed this fall. The art will be displayed on porcelain boards that are expected to withstand weather conditions. A podcast that will share the untold stories of east Austin and its people is also in the works and will be available on CapMetro’s website will also be available once the art installation is complete.

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