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Michael Barnes

1970s Austin No. 5: Minorities break out

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We asked thoughtful locals why the 1970s left such a lasting imprint on Austin. We received many provocative answers, which we’ll share here first. 

Feel free to send yours to mbarnes@statesman.com.

Gus Garcia, retired CPA and former Austin mayor

By the late sixties, I had learned how Austin’s economic engine worked, and to quote the Chamber of Commerce types, Austin’s economic wheel had only two spokes — UT and the state of Texas.  Along the way, the business community operatives had decided that to make Austin prosperous, the city needed some strong economic entities.

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The long Economy Furniture changed the face of politics in Austin.

Those conversations culminated in the recruitment efforts that brought IBM, Texas Instruments and a few other smaller businesses to Austin. In my opinion, the arrival of those large companies and the executives who came with them changed Austin in a very significant way, probably including having some kind of effect on the city’s cultural identity.

The other driving force, in my opinion, was the Overton v. Austin ISD — otherwise known as the desegregation case.  Leaders in the community were already talking about looking for ways to bring “the minorities” into the mainstream of politics in the city.  The first one elected was Wilhelmina Delco, who got elected to the Austin ISD Board of Trustees in 1968.
Richard Moya followed when he won a seat as the Precinct 4 County Commissioner. I firmly believe that the arrival of minorities in the political and social areas also changed the cultural identity of the city.
Index
1970s Austin: No. 1 Elizabeth Christian
1970s Austin: No. 2 Forrest Preece
1970s Austin: No. 3 Eddie Wilson