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Austin's Dispersed Black Population Could Make Preserving And Sharing Its History Tougher

Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon/KUT
kYmberly Keeton is the Austin History Center's African American Community Archivist and a librarian. She has observed more young, childless African Americans moving to Austin recently than families with children.

"History is being wiped away in Austin," the Austin History Center's African American Community Archivist and librarian says.

kYmberly Keeton cites new developments and high-priced housing that have pushed African-Americans out of neighborhoods like East Austin. She's putting out the call for black residents to think seriously about the mark they want to leave behind – even if they live in the city for only a few years.

"As a librarian, as an archivist, my job is to continue to tell that story about black people," Keeton says. She acknowledges the job is not as easy when Austin's black population is no longer concentrated in a few neighborhoods.

Keeton says the transient nature of black professionals who move to Austin for a few years but then leave town for other jobs contributes to concerns about adequately gathering, chronicling and sharing Austin's African-American history for years to come.

She says she believes archives should reflect the people and stories of the times, no matter the subject.

"I am not one of the people that believes knocking down monuments and taking names off of schools is a way of moving away from hard issues to talk about," Keeton says. "How can we talk about those hard issues if they're not there for us to see?"

Listen to the interview below to hear how Keeton plans to continue shoring up Austin's African American Community Archives:

Jennifer Stayton is the local host for NPR's "Morning Edition" on KUT. Got a tip? Email her at Follow her on X @jenstayton.
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