KLRU NewsBriefs: Celebrating Juneteenth with Bell County History

761st Fix

This week during PBS NewsHour Weekend, we’ll air excerpts from Juneteenth Jamboree, a 30 minute special about Bell County’s African-American history.

On Saturday, we introduce you to some famous names who have called Bell County home, including “Mean Joe” Greene and Alvin Ailey. Stephanie Turnham of the Bell County Museum told us Ailey’s first creation of the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater in 1958, “Blues Suite,” was inspired by his early childhood in Rogers, Texas.

“It starts out with the train whistle, way in the background and, of course, that tells us that work is over for the day. So, all of these characters come out to this juke joint, or whatever you want to call it, and light up the night,” Turnham said. “Alvin remembers beautiful women dressed up and men with their .38 Specials and that sort of thing.”

On Sunday, we hear why Killeen is known as one of the most diverse cities in Texas – thanks in large part to Fort Hood. When it was called Camp Hood during World War II, the all African-American 761st Tank Battalion was stationed on post. Also known as the Black Panther Battalion, the group included baseball legend Jackie Robinson.

Racial segregation policies of the times initially kept them out of the conflict overseas, but the 761st, nonetheless, achieved a superior combat rating and were deployed to the European theater, where they performed with precision and bravery. Today, a monument on post is dedicated to them.

Wilbert Byrd, President of the Central Texas Memorial Chapter of the 761st Tank Battalion & Allied Veterans Association tells us that before the memorial was built, the group was largely forgotten.

“They said the 761st? Who? Everybody knows about the Tuskegee Airmen, everybody knows about what they did, but nobody had ever heard of the 761st Tank Battalion even with all the things that they had done,” Byrd said. “We think we came up with something that was not only appropriate, not only was it elegant, but it was simple and it did what we wanted to do, it informed the public about the 761st Tank Battalion and their exploits during WWII.”

You can see both of these stories during PBS NewsHour weekend this Saturday and Sunday at 6:30pm. You can see Juneteenth Jamboree tonight, June 19 at 7:30pm and Tuesday, June 24 at 10:30pm.

KLRU News Briefs: Hole in the Wall Turns 40, Artists Beautify North Austin Fence

HITW Pic

KLRU News Briefs are back this weekend during PBS NewsHour after two weeks off. This weekend we’ll hear from a group of local artists who decided to use art to beautify their North Austin neighborhood and about a birthday celebration kicking off this week for the Hole in the Wall’s 40th anniversary.

On Saturday night tune in for an excerpt from the Arts in Context Short Beautiful Fences, the story behind a mural on a fence along Lamar Boulevard between Payton Gin and Rundberg.

“I started out just [painting] “Beauty Will Save the World” in black and white, just the lettering, knowing it would be tagged,” Artist Rigel Thurston tells us. “The people who tagged it…it was too perfect. So, the idea is to include the first round of taggers because they’re part of this neighborhood too.”

On Sunday, the owner of The Hole in the Wall, Will Tanner, tells us about the 40th anniversary party that kicks off on June 19. Plus, he talks about how the bar has evolved over the past four decades.

“The Hole in the Wall is this great place that’s been here a long time and it’s had to change a lot to survive, but I think what has been kept from the past is what makes us great,” Tanner says. Ultimately [this] is a place for like minded, and maybe even not like minded, people to come and enjoy themselves and enjoy live art…eat good food and drink great local beer and just spend some of your life.”

You can find out more about the lineup of bands performing during the celebration here.

KLRU News Briefs air this Saturday and Sunday at 6:30pm during PBS NewsHour Weekend. 

 

Civil Rights on KLRU 6/17, 6/24

In honor of the new show Freedom Summer: American Experience, KLRU is featuring special programs on the Civil Rights Movement. Look forward to two nights in June for these moving stories.

Tuesday, June 17
Austin Revealed: Civil Rights Stories - 7:30 p.m.
Start local: see interviews with prominent Austin citizens about their experience during Austin’s civil rights period, the effect of segregation and what gentrification has meant to the city.

Freedom Riders: American Experience - 8:00 p.m.
Depriving African-Americans of transportation was a key way of oppression until a group challenged the segregation in 1961. Interviews from the freedom riders themselves are featured in this awe-inspiring documentary.

Independent Lens: The New Black – 10:00 p.m.
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.

Tuesday, June 24
March – 7:00 p.m.
The revolutionary March on Washington and Martin Luther King, Jr.’s mind-blowing “I Have a Dream” speech took a lot of work to accomplish, and caused the turning point of the Civil Rights Movement. This documentary excavates the foundation of the monumental protest in honor of its 50th anniversary last year.

Freedom Summer: American Experience – 8:00 p.m.
Over 10 weeks in 1964 known as the Freedom Summer, more than 700 student volunteers in Mississippi joined with organizers and local African Americans in a historic effort to shatter the foundations of white supremacy in the nation’s most segregated state, with the goal of challenging the Democratic Party at the national convention in Atlantic City. The campaign was marked by sustained and deadly violence, including the notorious murders of three civil rights workers, countless beatings, the burning of 35 churches, and the bombing of 70 homes and Freedom Houses.

Austin Revealed: Civil Rights Stories – 10:00 p.m.

Juneteenth Jamboree: Texas’ African American – 10:30 p.m.
Focusing on the African-American experience in Bell County, Juneteenth Jamboree 2014 features stories about plantation life in mid-1850s Salado, the “Black Panthers” tank battalion in Killeen, important historical figures and much more.

KLRU News Briefs: Lady Bird Lake Hike and Bike Boardwalk to Open June 7, 2014

This weekend during PBS NewsHour we take a look into the new Boardwalk that is opening right on Austin’s very own Lady Bird Lake. The call to action was made by The Trail Foundation in 2007. The first task they had to overcome was funding, which they partially achieved with the 2010 mobility bond package. The Trail Foundation then committed $3 million in private funds in order to match the public money that was put into it.

The hard work and effort that was put into the boardwalk is very visible as Marty Stump, Project Management Supervisor for the City of Austin, proudly boasts about during his interview.

“It is really the result of a lot of people working over a long, long time, and obviously the construction nearing completion is very exciting for the department,” Stump states. “And, I know a lot of the trail users are anxious to get on the trail.”

The Trail Foundation speaks highly about the hope for an “increased distribution” that the Boardwalk will allow for trail users. Susan Rankin, the Executive Director of The Trail Foundation, shows how pleased she is with the finished product.

“It is really different to be out over the water… it is totally different than the experience of walking or running on the trail,” Rankin attests. “It’s going to be a beautiful, beautiful destination.”

The opening of the new Boardwalk is occurring on June 7, 2014. It will start at 10am and includes entertainment, music and a ceremonial ribbon cutting, followed by a festive march across the Boardwalk itself.

This story airs on KLRU Saturday, May 24, 2014 during PBS NewsHour Weekend. 

KLRU News Briefs: Texas Quilt Museum & Love Your Block, Austin!

NHW.TX QUILT MUSEUM

This weekend (May 17-18) during PBS NewsHour Weekend, we take a look inside the Texas Quilt Museum in La Grange and hear about Love Your Block, Austin!, a mini-grant program being offered by the Austin Mayor’s Office.

The Texas Quilt Museum in La Grange is drawing visitors from all over the world. It was founded by cousins Karey Bresenhan and Nancy O’Bryant Puentes, who have also written books about quilting and who founded the International Quilt Association and annual festival in Houston.

Museum Manager Julie Maffei said many people don’t realize how valuable an old quilt they own might be.

“We get a lot of, ‘Oh my God what did I do to my family’s quilt?’ And we’ve heard every kind of horror story there is, from dogs having puppies on them to wrapping water heaters with them in the winter, to using them to move furniture,” Maffei said.

The museum is also becoming well known for melding the art of quilting with the art of garden design. Tune in to KLRU’s Central Texas Gardener for an extended version of this story or find it on the CTG Blog.

Love Your Block, Austin! is offering $500 to $1,000 improvement grants to neighborhood groups in under-served areas of Austin. The application deadline is June 1 and so far the city has only received one completed application. 10-20 groups can get the funds.

“Love Your Block, Austin! is an amazing opportunity for anyone who wants to do an improvement that they can do on their own in the neighborhood,” Grant Coordinator Nevena Pilipovic-Wengler said. ”It’s a really flexible application and it’s a flexible process, it can take place on private and public property. We at Mayor Leffingwell’s office just really believe in this program and believe that it can fund great improvement projects and really encourage people to apply by the deadline of June 1.”

Pilipovic-Wengler told us a few groups are interested in funding community gardens between schools and neighborhood associations. In our story we speak to Ortega Elementary School PTA President Hilda Villalobos Alvarez about her community garden application.

If you have a project you think would be a good fit you can apply on the city’s website: austintexas.gov/loveyourblock.

KLRU News Briefs air locally every Saturday and Sunday during PBS NewsHour Weekend at 6:30pm. 

KLRU News Brief: Austin Students Learn Importance of Water

Water Sci Expo Photo

This Sunday during PBS NewsHour Weekend, we go inside the Austin Water Utility’s 20th annual Water Science Expo. Area 5th and 6th graders attended the event on Tuesday and Wednesday to learn about the importance of responsible water use. Austin Water employees did demonstrations for the kids in an interactive event which was fun and educational.

“We take it very seriously to educate this generation and future generations about the value of taking your water very seriously,” Austin Water spokesperson Jill Mayfield said. “It’s no secret that we’re in a very severe drought and that we need to be mindful and aware of how we use water every day.”

Mayfield said the event also served as a way to educate parents, because the kids go home and tell their families what they learned.

On Saturday, we’ll air an Arts in Context Short about #ATXFreeArtFriday, an Instagram art treasure hunt. You can see that piece online here.

 KLRU News Briefs air locally on Saturday and Sunday during PBS NewsHour Weekend. 

News Briefs: Dell Medical School Launch & Wildflower Center’s Family Garden

Medical School Launch

This week during PBS NewsHour Weekend: two exciting unveilings, each with UT ties. On Saturday, we hear from State Senator Kirk Watson and Dean Clay Johnston at the “launch” of the UT Dell Medical School.

Dr. Johnston, who currently makes up a faculty of 1 at the school, stressed the importance of more doctors to meet the medical needs of Austin’s growing population.

“We can’t train enough doctors in the current system to meet the need. There’s just no way,” Johnston said in his speech Monday. “They’re already about 20 percent behind the doctors who we should have here in Austin.”

On Sunday, we take a sneak peek at the new Luci and Ian Family Garden at the Lady Bird Johnston Wildflower Center. An extended version of the story by Central Texas Gardener’s Linda Lehmusvirta will air during CTG on Saturday. You can see it online here.

The garden was 15 years in conception and extends upon the mission Lady Bird had for the future generations.

“We believe that this is a family commitment,” her daughter Luci Baines Johnson said. “If we don’t join in that commitment from our very youngest to our very eldest than we are missing out on the joy that we can bring to multiple generations.”

You can watch the stories this Saturday and Sunday at 6:30pm during PBS NewsHour Weekend. 

 

KLRU News Briefs: East Austin Revealed

East Austin Demo PKG.Transc

This week during PBS NewsHour Weekend we preview part of Civic Summit: East Austin Revealed. On Saturday, Austin Mayor Lee Leffingwell and former State Representative Wilhelmina Delco discuss why many African Americans are leaving East Austin, an area where they were once required to live by law. Today, many African Americans are moving to Austin’s suburbs.

Delco, who has lived in East Austin for more than 50 years, says the city can do more to highlight the region’s rich history.

“We as a city ought to be more conscious of the preservation and the need for saving what was good and important to our people,” Delco said. “We don’t have nearly enough historical markers to mark all of the things that made black East Austin a unique community that thrived in spite of all the obstacles that were put in our way.”

On Sunday, our story delves into rising property values and tax rates in East Austin. Again, we’ll hear from Delco, Mayor Leffingwell and current State Representative Dawnna Dukes.

The entire Civic Summit: East Austin Revealed airs Thursday, April 24 at 8:30pm, immediately following a documentary about East Austin’s Civil Rights history.

KLRU News Briefs: Austin’s Bitcoin ATM & Civil Rights Summit Preview

KLRU News Briefs

This weekend during PBS NewsHour Weekend our local news stories look back in history, and look forward at what some call the “currency of the future.”

On Saturday it’s one of Austin’s newest gadgets: a Bitcoin ATM. The machine, designed by a company called Robocoin, was the first of its kind in the U.S. It’s located at HandleBar downtown.

The machine allows people to walk up and either enroll in Bitcoin on the spot or buy and sell from a pre-existing account. You can also withdraw cash.

“The one in Canada, it’s brought a lot of business. Ideally we get some foot traffic, get some booze sold and merchandise and stuff like that,” HandleBar Co-Owner Willie Stark told us.

But, Bitcoin has had some setbacks recently. We asked LBJ School economics professor Dr. Yanis Varoufakis about the risks involved.

“There is no telephone number you can dial if suddenly your Bitcoins have disappeared. All you need is a clever hacker who hacks into your wallet and suddenly your fortune in bitcoins has disappeared,” Varoufakis said.

On Sunday, we preview the LBJ Presidential Library’s Civil Rights Summit, which runs from April 8-10. Three of the four former living presidents will be on the University of Texas campus for the event, as will President Obama. The summit marks the 50th anniversary of President Lyndon Johnson signing the Civil Rights Act.

“We thought what better way to [mark the anniversary] than with a summit that really celebrates the advances that were made in ’64 but also looks hard at some of the open issues in 2014,” LBJ Foundation President Elizabeth Christian told us.

NHW.SUMMIT PVW.WEBPanel discussions will be held each afternoon with activists and civil rights leaders before the evening keynotes with Presidents Carter, Clinton and George W. Bush. President Obama will speak Thursday morning at 11:30.

Tickets are no longer available but the entire summit will be streamed online on the summit’s website: www.civilrightssummit.org and will be televised on The Longhorn Network. You can see the entire Summit schedule here.