This week, I interviewed Jacquelyn Reed, the founder of the Westside Health Authority and pastor of Every Block a Village Church — both in Austin.
After that interview, Reed agreed to share some of her favorite memories of the West Side. This is part of her story.
On her favorite West Side memory
My favorite memory is sitting on the front porch of my aunt’s house, when I came to Lawndale from Mississippi. I would watch children jump double dutch and play basketball. We heard the bongos in the evenings at six o’clock and sometimes early on Saturday mornings. We’d hear the Doo-wop singers singing.
It was a real community enlivened by people being outside with each other, caring for each other. We knew each other. This was a viable Black community, even though you had all of this racial discrimination. You might not have been able to make as much money as others or may have been redlined, but people were very happy to be with each other.
On moving to Austin
It was hard to move into Austin, because they didn’t let many Blacks in there. My husband was able to get an apartment in Austin, because he was half white. He passed. When we got married, we moved to Austin in 1970 — at 1400 W. Wilcox Ave.
On how things have changed
We don’t see children playing outside anymore. The basketball courts are not full, the children aren’t jumping double dutch now. Fifteen years ago, the West Side was more vibrant and exciting than the suburbs. You’d leave the West Side and go to the suburbs. You’d see beatifically cut grass and beautiful homes, but you didn’t hear the bongos or see the vibrancy. You didn’t get a sense of a community. There was much more vibrancy and on the West Side at the time.