News Briefs: Tribune reports on Sandra Bland death investigation, Plus the rising cost of school supplies

New details emerged this week in the investigation into the death of Sandra Bland, who died a in Waller County jail last week. This weekend during PBS NewsHour, our partners at The Texas Tribune report on how lawmakers and residents of Prairie View are reacting to her death.

On July 10, a state trooper pulled over Bland for failing to signal during a lane change. She was taken into custody and three days later an officer found Bland dead, hanging in her jail cell. The Tribune’s Alana Rocha reports dash cam video, released Tuesday, raised many concerns about the officer’s conduct and the merits of Bland’s arrest. And now state lawmakers say the agencies involved will be transparent throughout the case, which is now being treated as a murder investigation.

“No one should jump to any conclusions. Wait for the investigations to be completed and then see what the facts have to say,” Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick said.

Meanwhile, Rocha reports, Bland’s faith community, family, and friends are trying to keep the peace through prayer. But on Sunday, before a packed church crowd in Prairie View, prayer turned to frustration.

“In the county that is known for racial profiling and unjust behavior towards individuals of color, oh yes, I said it today, I want to go on the record,” Lenora Dabney of Prairie View Hope AME Church told the congregation. “They have made it known, but I have to pray for the community today, for hope and for healing.”

On Sunday during NewsHour, our story focuses on the rising cost of back-to-school supplies. Austin non-profit Manos de Cristo hosted its annual Back-to-School drive this week. During the drive the group hands out backpacks, school supplies and clothing to 2,000 low-income children, and many parents line up before sunrise to make sure they get what they need. Manos’ Education Coordinator Karen Green told us they estimate the total cost for each parent would be around $50 per child.

“It has been a trend where the children are asked to bring classroom school supplies,” Green said. “They share them once they get to school and those kids who do not bring them just feel kind of left out. [Parents] wouldn’t stand in line in the heat if they didn’t have a need.”

Austin ISD told us they rely on partner organizations, the business community, and non-profits to help cover the costs of supplies for families who cannot afford them. District officials told us AISD’s current deficit requires them to ask parents to outfit their children with supplies.

The Center for Public Policy Priorities, a left-leaning policy research group, told us districts would love to provide supplies like folders and glue sticks for every child, but because state lawmakers haven’t provided enough school funding, districts are forced to push those costs on to parents.

“Texas saw very large school cuts in 2011, about 5.3 billion was cut from our school system,” Chandra Villanueva with CPPP said. “That money has not been fully restored [and] this issue of school supplies is just one example of how we’re not keeping pace with school funding and giving schools the resources that they need.”

KLRU News Briefs air locally during PBS NewsHour Weekend at 6:30pm. Our Sunday story is part of KLRU’s American Graduate initiative, funded by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. American Graduate is aimed at increasing awareness about factors that lead to dropout in Central Texas.

Do you have an American Graduate story idea? We’d love to hear from you! Email us at, post a comment, or tweet at us using #amgradtx. 

What’s happening this weekend: July 24-26

Another Austin weekend chock-full of activities! Whether you’re willing to weather the heat or seeking cool shelter, we have recommendations for you.

Free music at the Bob Bullock Museum

Check out local acts The Octopus Project and Golden Dawn Arkestra for free Friday night at the Bob Bullock Texas State History Museum. The Bullock Museum’s free concert series, Music Under the Star, is presented in partnership with Fun Fun Fun Fest in celebration of the 10th anniversary of the Austin festival. Bring the whole family, chairs and blankets! Before you go, watch Arts In Context’s documentary on The Octopus Project, which expresses the meaning of “multi” media by creating lively art through music, film and technology. The band has been releasing joyous party music since 2002, all the while touring the world both on their own and as handpicked support for artists as diverse as Aesop Rock, DEVO and Explosions in the Sky.

Admission: Free. Hours: Friday, 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. Details here.

Free classical music in the park from the Austin Symphony

Pack some water bottles and fans to stay cool and head over to the Hartman Concert Park in front of the Long Center City Terrance on Sunday evening. The Austin Symphony Orchestra presents free ensemble concerts every Sunday evening through August 23. The performance will feature music from jazz and light classical to pops selections and film scores. Bring a picnic, a blanket and the whole family!

KLRU featured the Austin Symphony Orchestra’s annual young composers program on Arts In Context in 2013. Watch the full episode to get in the Austin Symphony spirit!

Admission: Free. Hours: Sunday, 7:30 p.m. Details here.

In 2012, KLRU Collective also told the story of Austin Symphony Conductor Peter Bay. A live 13-piece ensemble of musicians weaved in and out of classical compositions and original music by Graham Reynolds, while Bay conducts in true to life and abstract ways.

Take a day trip with the family!

Our very own Chet Garner, the Texas vacation specialist, has plenty of recommendations for you and your family. From fun activities to do locally to trips to towns in Central Texas and beyond. Visit The Daytripper website for recommendations! For inspiration, watch his trip to San Marcos.

Compassion for Those We Love: A Town Meeting on Caregiving for Alzheimer’s in the Hispanic Community

Host Tsi Tsi Ki RGB

More than 200,000 Spanish-speaking people in the United States suffer from Alzheimer’s disease and, according to the Alzheimer’s Association, that number could potentially increase to 1.3 million by 2050 – a growth rate of 600 percent.

Alzheimer’s presents its own set of problems in the general population, but it seems to affect the Latino population at a higher rate. Latinos, studies suggest, possess more risk factors (diabetes, high blood pressure) for developing dementia than other groups and exhibit Alzheimer’s symptoms at an earlier age than non-Hispanics. In addition, surveys indicate Latinos’ reluctance to see doctors may result from financial and language barriers or because they mistake dementia symptoms for normal aging, thereby delaying the diagnosis.

bQuestion from audience member

KLRU presents Compassion for Those We Love: A Town Meeting on Caregiving for Alzheimer’s in the Hispanic Community on Friday, July 24th at 8pm on V-Me; Sunday, July 26th at 1 pm on KLRU; Monday, July 27th at 6 pm on KLRU Q. Taped in Spanish in front of an audience—and subtitled in English—this program focuses on the human stories of the caregiving crisis in a town-hall style format. Hosted by Tsi-tsi-ki Felix, a Telemundo news anchor and reporter, this program features a panel discussion and a question-and-answer session with experts including Dr. Maria Carrillo, Ph.D from the National Alzheimer’s Association and clinical neuropsychologist Dr. Marla Marquine, Ph.D from the University of California, San Diego.

One of the Hispanic community’s strengths—the strong cultural value of family responsibility and the desire to care for elders and loved ones in the home—make the need for accurate information and access to care giving resources all the more critical. This educational program addresses these issues and others in a linguistically and culturally sensitive manner. Although geared specifically to the Hispanic community, much of the information presented is universal and applicable to most Alzheimer’s caregivers.

Compassion for Those We Love: A Town Meeting on Caregiving for Alzheimer’s in the Hispanic Community airs:
Friday, July 24th at 8 pm on V-Me
Sunday, July 26th at 1 pm on KLRU
Monday, July 27th at 6 pm on KLRU Q

What’s happening this weekend: July 17-19

Happy weekend, Austinites! Stay cool this weekend with these (mostly) local events.

Take a road trip to Winedale for UT’s annual Shakespeare productions

“Shakespeare at Winedale,” a University of Texas program which presents various Shakespeare productions in Winedale, Texas, is in its 35th year this summer. This year, the students are presenting Twelfth Night (opening July 16), Henry V (opening July 17) and Pericles (opening July 18). Established in 1970 as a UT English course, Shakespeare at Winedale has grown into a year-round program reaching many different groups. Students in the summer program spend two months in the Texas countryside, studying and performing three plays in a nineteenth-century barn converted into a theatre.

So, load up in the car this weekend and journey about 80 miles east to Winedale to appreciate the students’ hard work. But before you go, watch this episode of Shakespeare Uncovered, in which Jeremy Irons researches Shakespeare’s history plays such as Henry V, as well as the differences between the real history and the father-son drama that Shakespeare creates.

Admission: $5 with a UT ID, $10 for all others. Hours: Showtimes vary. Details and ticket information here. 

Revisit your childhood fairytales at the Blanton Museum of Art

Natalie Frank: The Brothers Grimm opened last week at the Blanton and features more than 30 gouache and pastel drawings by artist Natalie Frank, a New York-based Austin native. Organized by The Drawing Center in New York, this presentation explores the nineteenth-century fairy tales of Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm, including well-known stories such as Cinderella and Snow White, and more obscure tales such as The Lettuce Donkey and The Ungrateful Son.

Before you go, watch On Story: Reimagining The Classics as writers of re-imagined classics & popular franchises such as Ghost, Charlie & The Chocolate Factory, Twins and Snow White and the Huntsman deliberate how to keep stories fresh while staying true to the original.

Admission: Free for Blanton members and UT students, faculty and staff. $9 for adults, $7 for seniors, $5 for college students with valid ID and youth ages 13-21, free for children 12 and under. Hours: 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday. Details about the exhibit can be found here.  

Dance and sing along to Hairspray at the Zilker Hillside Theatre

Zilker Theatre Productions’ annual free summer musical this year is Hairspray, and trust me, you’ll have a hard time resisting the urge to sing and dance along with the energetic characters and catchy tunes.

Before you get down with “The Nicest Kids In Town,” check out this interview with John Waters, who directed the 2007 movie.

Admission: Free. Hours: Thursday through Sunday nights beginning at approximately 8:15 p.m. Details here.

Mix up your musical interests with the Austin Chamber Music Festival

Each summer the Austin Chamber Music Center presents an exciting line-up of world-class artists, programmed by Artistic Director Michelle Schumann. The 19th annual Austin Chamber Music Festival wraps up this weekend with performances from Trio con Brio Copenhagen, Time for Three and Cactus Pear Ensemble in the Bates Recital Hall on UT campus.

Austin’s own Mother Falcon performed as part of the festival last weekend. Check out this episode of Arts In Context documenting the band’s inspiring story.

Admission: $25 for general admission, $50 for premium seating. Hours: Concert times vary. Details and ticket information here.

Love your rescue pet (and all local rescue pets) with Austin Pets Alive!

In Austin, we love our rescue pets. Local rescue Austin Pets Alive! has devoted an entire day to loving your rescue cat or dog. APA! has partnered with local businesses to help raise money to save more local pets. Click here for a list of participating businesses.

Additionally, it’s supposed to finally hit 100 degrees this weekend in Austin…so make sure to check out these tips for keeping your furry friends safe during the summer.

Shop at the biggest garage sale you’ll ever attend

Austin’s City-Wide Garage Sale is Saturday and Sunday at the Palmer Events Center. If you’re an antiques junkie or you’re just looking to get a good deal on some gently used items, it’s worth checking out. Before you go, make sure to binge-watch some of our online episodes of Antiques Roadshow. You never know when you’ll find something really valuable at a garage sale!

Admission: $6 for adults, kids 12 and under get in free, $10 for early shoppers on Saturday only. Hours: Early shopping Saturday at 8:30 a.m., all other shopping 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and 11 to 5 p.m. Sunday. Details here.

SXSW Flashback showcases international acts

How does Austin interact with the world, and how does the world interact with us?

That’s the question the SXSW Flashback crew is trying to answer with this year’s program, airing at 9 p.m. Thursday, July 16 (additional airdates). In its fifth year, SXSW Flashback 2015 is themed around the international portion of South by Southwest — from UK rockers Wolf Alice to the phenomenon that is Korean pop music.

“This year we’re doing it a little different, because we went with a theme, which was international,” said JJ Weber, executive producer of SXSW Flashback. “How do we interact with the world, and how does the world interact with us? And why are they coming to this festival? It’s insane how many people come.”

Weber and his SXSW Flashback crew have seen the annual festival grow tremendously in the last five years. Two years before SXSW Flashback began, Weber was doing SXSW coverage for another KLRU program called Docubloggers. That’s where he and another crew member got the idea for the new program, he said.

“I call it, ‘All the best bits,’” said Galia Farber, KLRU’s production & operations manager who works as a producer on SXSW Flashback. “It is insane. I kind of try to start looking at what’s announced and coming, and we chat about stuff, but initially a lot of it is also just reaching out, throwing darts and seeing what sticks, but also we have to try to just stay in the moment and say, ‘Alright, we think we’re going to to this,’ and something kind of serendipitous happens. We’ll be interviewing someone, and someone will suggest something, or you’ll randomly stumble upon a party, something that fits in with another interview. Some of it lands in your lap, almost randomly.”

JJ Weber (executive producer), Galia Farber (producer), Colleen Nelson (associate producer) Taylor Kondelis (producer, not pictured)

JJ Weber (executive producer), Galia Farber (producer), Colleen Nelson (associate producer)
Taylor Kondelis (producer, not pictured)

It takes months for the program to come together — from tracking down rumors of celebrity keynotes months before the festival to the post-production process, which is part of the reason the show is a “flashback” that airs four to six months after the festival, Weber said. Another reason is that it can sometimes take a while for the bands, films and technology introduced at the festival to filter out to a larger audience.

“So much of the stuff that’s at the festival, like films, they come out months later,” Weber said. “Bands release their CDs later or they get found at the festival and they’re not popular at first. The tech companies release a product, and the general public won’t have even touched it until months later. So sometimes, it’s almost better to see the show after, to say, ‘Oh my gosh, I saw that at the festival,’ or, ‘That was here? Those people were here? I can’t believe they did that.’”

One of the biggest challenges, Weber and Farber said, was passing up well-known celebrities or some of the larger, hyped-up parts of the festival because they didn’t fit into the theme.

“This year was definitely very intentionally done. There are things we would not do because it was not international,” Farber said.

“The hardest part is when you’re handed things on a silver platter, and you don’t want them. It’s like, ‘Are we making a large mistake, or is this going to work fine?’ And the viewers can tell us about that,” Weber said.

That’s not to say there aren’t big celebrities in this year’s program — Ryan Gosling, after all, is Canadian.

“I just hope from this episode that viewers might see something they would never have seen otherwise, and get into some random world music or look into film that they never would have watched,” Weber said.

Watch SXSW Flashback at 9 p.m. Thursday, July 16 on KLRU.

Arts In Context Shorts: Riding the Line

This week, Arts in Context Shorts takes you up handrails and down half-pipes to explore skateboarding culture in a new light.

Torque and Axis, an exciting new exhibit by artist Jared Steffensen, showcases the materials, shapes and movements generated by skateboarders as they travel through urban landscapes in innovative ways. Using bright colors, fluid lines and repurposed materials, the exhibit emphasizes the contemplative and imaginative aspects of skateboarding. Many of the exhibit’s sculptures highlight the beauty of skateboarding equipment while a film installation explores the perseverance skateboarders employ in their practice.

Presented by the Department of Art and Art History at the University of Texas, Torque and Axis pulls skateboarding into the art world with fascinating results.

Arts in Context Shorts: Wildly Strange

This week’s Arts in Context Shorts features Ralph Eugene Meatyard’s eerie photographs that possess a “wildly strange” nature. Often employing masks, dolls and sometimes his own children set against abandoned buildings and other eerie backdrops, Meatyard’s work differed from the documentary, photo-journalism approach that defined the mainstream definition of the photographer in the 1950s. His photographs blur (often quite literally) the distinctions between literature and visual art, encouraging viewers to explore the role of fiction in the photographic images and their representation of reality.

KLRU celebrates LGBT Pride Month 2015

KLRU broadcasts programming created by and about people from all cultures year-round, from public affairs to history to independent film to kids programming. In celebration of LGBT Pride Month, KLRU is broadcasting a lineup of special programs exploring the culture of the gay, lesbian, and transgender community.

Independent Lens “The New Black”
Monday, June 1 at 9 pm
Centering on the historic fight to win marriage equality in Maryland, this film takes viewers into the pews, onto the streets and provides a seat at the kitchen table as it looks at how the African American community grapples with the divisive gay rights issue.

Independent Lens “God Loves Uganda”
Monday, June 8 at 9 pm
This film explores the role of the American Evangelical movement in fueling Uganda’s terrifying turn towards the proposed death penalty for homosexuality.

Arts in Context “In Face”
Thursday, June 11 at 7:30 pm
Behind the makeup and false eyelashes of drag queens are the eccentric lives of brilliant performers. In Face follows the complex lives of three performance artists in three cities: Austin, Los Angeles, Atlanta. Each queen, with a unique life offstage, sheds a bit of light on the hectic and determined lifestyle of pursuing a drag career. With daring costumes and lavish handmade hair pieces, Gia Sunflowers always surprises the crowd with his gothic style as waiter and performer of the drag queen dining establishment LIPS Atlanta. Obtaining success in Hollywood as contestant on RuPaul’s Drag Race, television star Willam Belli tours the country as a performer while also gaining a career as a recording artist.

Independent Lens “Limited Partnership”
Monday, June 15 at 9 pm
In 1975, decades before The Defense of Marriage Act and Proposition 8, Filipino American Richard Adams and Australian Tony Sullivan became one of the first same-sex couples in the world to be legally married. Mere months later, however, the Immigration and Naturalization Service declared their marriage invalid and began proceedings to deport Tony. With a uniquely personal perspective in a larger political battle, “Limited Partnership” follows the couple’s forty-year fight seeking equal treatment for a same-sex marriage, all while living undocumented in the United States.

POV “Out in the Night”
Monday, June 22 at 9 pm
In 2006, under the neon lights of a gay-friendly neighborhood in New York City, a group of African American lesbians were violently threatened by a man on the street. The women fought back and were later charged with gang assault and attempted murder. The tabloids quickly dubbed them a gang of “Killer Lesbians” and a “Wolf Pack.” Three pleaded guilty to avoid a trial, but the remaining four — Renata, Patreese, Venice and Terrain — maintained their innocence. This film examines the sensational case and the women’s uphill battle, revealing the role that race, gender identity and sexuality play in our criminal justice system.

Arts in Context “Somos Krudas” 
Thursday, June 25 at 7:30 pm and Sunday, June 28 at 1 pm
Having survived under a totalitarian regime, Cuban hip-hop duo Krudas Cubensi refuses to compromise. Lyrically, nothing is off limits as they spit fiery lines about politics and sexuality with a frankness and openness that is seldom seen. With a persistent Afro-Cuban rhythm, Odaymara Cuesta and Olivia Prendes use their art as a weapon “to fight against oppression, for justice, for balance, for our rights, to celebrate the life.” Now based out of Austin, Texas, Krudas Cubensi continues their fight for social justice through their incendiary, original hip-hop.

Frontline “Growing Up Trans”
Tuesday, June 30, at 9 pm
Explore the struggles and choices facing transgender kids and their parents. Through moving, personal stories of children, parents and doctors, the film examines new medical interventions increasingly being offered at younger ages.

Screening Austin Revealed Pioneers from the East 5/27

austin revealed

Join us for a screening of
Austin Revealed: Pioneers from the East

Join KLRU and the Asian American Resource Center as we premiere the latest videos from our ongoing Austin Revealed series. The new videos explore the first Chinese families to settle in Austin. Produced in partnership with the Austin History Center, these videos tell the stories of four generations of prominent Chinese American families still living in Central Texas through first person interviews and archival material.

Wednesday, May 27th
Doors 6:30pm | Screening & discussion 7-8pm

Asian American Resource Center
8401 Cameron Rd, Austin, TX 78754

Asian Americans are the fastest growing ethnic group in Texas and nationwide, outpacing Hispanics. While most of this growth is due to recent immigration, the first wave of Asianmigration goes back to the mid 1800’s, when Chinese workers were brought in to work in gold mines and on the railroad. Some of these workers settled in Texas, but in a state that is fanatic about preserving and celebrating its history, very little is known about these pioneering AsianAmericans.

Austin Revealed is an ongoing video project that highlights stories of Austin’s past and present to encourage discussion and thought around the city’s future.

This event is part of our work to celebrate Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month.

Austin Revealed screening sponsors

Arts In Context Shorts: Experimental Response Cinema

This week’s Art In Context Shorts focuses on a group exploring the limits of film. Experimental Response Cinema showcases those films that explore the untapped possibilities of cinema. By unearthing experimental films hidden in archives and publicizing new experimental works, the local organization offers viewers the chance to marvel together as images merge, pop, and glide across the silver screen. Highlighting the works of filmmakers like Roger Beebe, whose films combine multiple projectors and innovative cinematography, Experimental Response Cinema is an invaluable contributor and cultivator of Austin’s robust film scene. Creating installations that are half film and half art to audiences eager to experience a unique and imaginative side of cinema.