History Center Celebrates Newspaper That's Chronicled Black Life In Austin Since 1973

Jan 29, 2020

Photographs from a local newspaper that has chronicled African American life in Austin for almost 50 years are on display at the Austin History Center for the next few months.

The exhibit, Our Community, Our Voice: Photographs from The Villager Newspaper, features images published in the weekly paper since it was founded by Tommy Wyatt in 1973.

"Our philosophy is we wanted to put together the historical record of the black community and the good things about the black community," Wyatt says of The Villager. "In our daily papers, all you could see when we made the front page is when an African American had done something bad, killed somebody or got arrested for whatever."

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Tommy Wyatt is the publisher and editor in chief of The Villager.
Credit Julia Reihs / KUT

It's a sentiment shared by the Austin History Center's African American community archivist kYmberly Keeton who, in working on the exhibit, pored through hundreds of photos from The Villager.

"[Wyatt] speaks about the goodness of black people," Keeton says. "When you look at other newspapers, you won't get to see the debutants. You won't get to see the straight-A students that come from our community being featured weekly."

A marching band performs at the Juneteenth Parade in June 2007.
Credit AR-2001-002-2014-199, Austin History Center, Austin Public Library

The Austin History Center's exhibit on The Villager will be on display Jan. 30 to April 19. An opening reception is planned Thursday from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. The exhibit is part of the Austin History Center’s kickoff to its first-ever African American genealogy conference, Growing Your Roots.

Kaci M. Fannin, Carolyn Crockett, and Sonja Parks of The Root Wy'mn Theatre Co.
Credit AR-2001-002-R069, Austin History Center, Austin Public Library. (Photo by Rita Debelles)

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