The first recorded African-American in Austin, Texas, was, somewhat predictably, a slave. Arriving in 1839 with Alexander Mur­chison, 10-year old mulatto Mahala – the illegitimate daughter of Alexander’s brother and his indigenous American/black slave – was raised a wife’s maid. She, of course, would not be the last slave to come to Austin: In 1840, 17% of Austin’s 856 residents were black. In 1860, 28% were black.

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So began the history of black Austin, the uncomfortable fact of slavery influencing what would come. Many Austin residents – even some blacks…

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