Six Square Arts Fest Line-up Announced

A 1942 photograph shows the construction of the Negro Recreation Building in Rosewood Park in East Austin. Later it was renamed the Doris Miller Auditorium after the Austinite whose heroics at Pearl Harbor in 1941 made him the first African-American to earn the Navy Cross, that service's highest honor. Austin History Center photo.

Six Square has released the line-up for its District Cultural Arts Fest 2018 on September 1.

The non-profit Six Square preserves and celebrates the historic legacy of the African American community that once thrived in Central East Austin.

The Sept. 1 festival features live music, art installations, spoken word and interactive storytelling, and even chefs that will reanimate six sites of historical significance in the district including Oakwood Cemetery, the George Washington Carver Museum, Doris Miller Auditorium, Givens Park, Huston-Tillotson University and Six Square’s headquarters on San Bernard Street. Grammy-award-winning artist Mali Music will headline the finale concert.

Tickets are on sale now. See the full District Cultural Arts Fest 2018 line-up.

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The organization Six Square takes its name from the square miles of the old “Negro District” in Central East Austin that was created by the city’s 1928 Master Plan that sought to remove people of color from all areas of the city and isolate them. Prior to the 1928 plan, African-Americans and Latinos lived in pockets dispersed throughout the city.

Like other cities, Austin developed its 1928 plan in response to the 1917 ruling U.S. Supreme Court ruling that struck down segregationist zoning laws. Austin’s plan called for African Americans to be relocated en masse to a six-square mile area east of East Avenue (today’s IH-35). The district is bordered on the north by Manor Road and the Oakwood Cemetery (formerly City Cemetery) and to the south by East Seventh Street.

While the so-called “Negro District” was the only part of Austin where African-Americans could access schools and other public services, the district also had the city’s weakest zoning restrictions, allowing the development of just about any industrial or commercial development, including hazardous operations like petroleum storage and distribution facilities.

In 2009, the Six Square area was declared Austin’s African American Cultural Heritage District, the first such district to receive the Texas Commission on the Arts title.

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