My Latest: The History of Race And Football In Austin


In this month’s issue of the Texas Observer, I have a feature on the history of race and football in Austin. It was months in the making and I’m proud of the work. You can now read it online at their site.

The feature goes from the segregated Jim Crow days of the early 1940s through to the present day and the hire of Charlie Strong as the first black head coach of a men’s team at UT, which just happens to be the most lucrative team in all of college football. Austin has a long, troubled history with segregation and inequality (and inequity) that is still very much alive in the geography of the city, inequality in education and income levels, effect of skyrocketing land values and subsequent property taxes, etc. Austin also has a pretty amazing football history that highlights a lot of the changing social landscape of this place over the last century. I tried to bring all of this together in the piece.

Print publishing is a strange phenomenon when you are used to writing something, sending it off to an editor, and seeing it online within a day, if not hours. I’ve been sitting with this completed story for a month or so now. And the first draft was due on August 1 and then there were a series of edits (and bless my editor, Brad, who worked on this piece with me – I sent him a mess and he polished it into this final form).

In the month or so that I’ve had to think about the piece in its final form, what I’ve thought most about is how insufficient the piece is to truly capturing the complexity and the extent of these issues and this history. One feature, especially one that attempts to span so much time, is gonna be lacking; that’s inevitable.

But now we have the internet. And I have this blog. So, to help supplement the necessary truncation that had to take place in the feature and for those interested, a whole lot more stuff you can read about all of this stuff if you want to:

(there’s nothing comprehensive about this list, it’s just my list of sources I found and used)

The following links are directly related to content in the piece (either mentioned or quoted):

Everything else below is something I have read in the last year, at least in part, and has informed the overall way that I think about these topics:



Old Anderson High School

Austin High

Dick “Night Train” Lane

Integrating UT 

  • “Royal Pain” by Scott Cobb and Daniel Rodriguez at the Austin Chronicle (Oct 4, 1996)
  • “The Precursors are a group of African American alumni who share the distinction of being among the first Black students to attend and integrate The University of Texas at Austin more than 40 years ago” (via)
  • “Changing The Field: Integrating Athletics At UT” by Louise Iscoe (Feb 10, 2014)
  • “Integrating Texas Athletics: The Forgotten Story of the First Black Basketball Players” by Grant David Abston (a 2011 Masters Report from UT)
  • Andrew Busch shared with me a paper he wrote while in graduate school titled, “Behind Closed Doors: Private Spaces, Miscegenation, and Desegregation at the University of Texas, 1956-1965”
  • “Whittier led the integration of Texas football team” by Rachel Thompson at the Daily Texan (May 1, 2012)

Charlie Strong

Austin, in general

  • The End of Austin: a digital humanities project that explores urban identity in Austin, Texas with a new issue every six months.

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