Over Labor Day weekend, Austin non-profit Six Square celebrated the Six Square District Days Festival and inaugural East Austin Stroll with two days of food, fun, live music and culture reflective of the African American legacy in central-east Austin.
The Six Square organization shares its name with Austin’s old “Negro District,” a six-square-mile area in central-east Austin that is the only black cultural district recognized by the Texas Commission on the Arts in the state. The district, located between Airport Blvd and Interstate 35 (East/West) and Manor Rd. and 7th St. (North/South) was created by the Austin City Council’s 1928 Master plan, designed to address the “Negro Problem” and forced African-Americans to move east of what is now Interstate 35. The majority of Austin’s African American residence at the time already considered east Austin home and had built a vibrant and rich culture that included businesses, churches, schools, two colleges, and fraternal organizations. Six Square’s mission is to preserve the African American presence, culture and history in central-east Austin.
The Six Square District Days Festival celebrated at Downs-Mabson Field with live performances from hip-hop/neo-soul artist and music journalist Ogden Payne, poetic lyricist Tree G and nine-piece rock, soul and R&B fusion outfit CJ Edwards and The Funk Fellowship. As the sun began to set, Austin’s favorite rapper Omenihu bounced across the stage to deliver his sharp social commentary and remind the crowd that all vibes matter before African drum and dance ensemble Bandan Koro closed out the day’s festivities.
Sunday’s East Austin Stroll explored six historical destinations within the district and reanimated the cultural experience through curated cuisine of the African Diaspora, artistic performances, art exhibits, multi-media displays and much more. The curated sites included the Six Square District Office, the George Washington Carver Museum, Oakwood Cemetery, the African American Heritage Facility, the 12th St. Business Corridor and Huston-Tillotson University where the day’s events culminated in a live performances by Tressa Jarrell and Tje Austin.