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A Glimpse Into Austin’s Rich History: Booker T. Washington at Wooldridge Square

Austin’s historic squares date to the earliest days of our city. In his 1839 Plan, Edwin Waller reserved four city blocks as civic squares, three of which still remain – Brush, Republic, and Wooldridge. Each of these historically important squares has a very distinct legacy.

Wooldridge Square lay dormant for its first 70 years. In 1909, Mayor A.P. Wooldridge, for whom the square is named, enhanced the natural amphitheater for public performances by inspiring the community to help clean up the space and constructing a bandstand.

Over the next century, Wooldridge Square would host many public engagements as a common ground where the issues of the time can be discussed and debated. A common thread that ties many of the issues together is freedom. One of the most significant examples is Booker T. Washington’s Tour of Texas coming to Wooldridge Square.

Booker T. Washington, famed educator and preeminent African American leader, toured Texas to promote his ideas for African American advancement. In September of 1911, Washington addressed 6,000 of Austin’s total 30,000 residents at Wooldridge Square. Washington remarked,

“I have but one object in view in coming to this State at this time, that of seeing for myself what progress our race is making with its opportunities, to note also the relations existing between white man, and to say a word, wherever possible, that will further promote friendly and rational relations between white man and black man”

Join us in celebrating this part of Austin’s history by commemorating Booker T. Washington’s visit with the unveiling of a new interpretive panel following the narrative in the comprehensive interpretive strategy, Our Austin Story.

Juneteenth
June 19, 2019 | 9:00 AM
At Wooldridge Square

See the Event

Commissioned in partnership with Austin Parks & Recreation Department (PARD) and Friends of Wooldridge Square, developed by Ted Lee Eubanks, Fermata Inc.

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