Humanities Institute

Excerpts from Writing Austin's Lives

Nearly 800 Central Texans submitted their stories to the Writing Austin's Lives project between April and August of 2003. Below are a few highlights from the 127 stories included in Writing Austin's Lives: a community portrait. To read sample stories and access related media clips, see the Writing Austin's Lives Press section. The entire archive of Writing Austin's Lives stories is available to the public at the Austin History Center.

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"When I look at this city I feel like I can do something. It's as if it is just staring at you just asking you to give it something in return."
Hugo Ortiz, 8th Grade

"I grew up in a time when the lighter the skin, the straighter the hair, the thinner the lips, and the keener the nose, the more beauty there was. So for a skinny little brown girl with Negroid features and kinky hair, self-image wasn't even an option."
Judith Jenkins

"What I really need is a miracle...Right now I am in Juvenile. This has been happening to me since I was 13 years old."
Jennifer Reyes, 10th Grade

"We lived in East Austin. Rosewood Park was right behind our house. I went to that park every day. That was my park. I spent most of my free time there. I was running, swinging, picking out cloud formations, and keeping my fingers crossed that my heart would stop aching."
Rosalinda Stevenson

"My neighbors here are Hispanic; some have been living in Austin for more than three years...Some feel like they are tourists, buying their cowboy hats and great big cars to identify themselves. The young guys wear brown-colored shirts with the logo of a bull. It is said that there is a bull that is everyone's director and even represents all the sports teams. People even get their pictures taken with him."
Antelmo Vasquez, translated from the Spanish by Vania Lanas

"The house in Austin where I have lived for the past 40 years is on land where I picked cotton when I was 10 years old—some 76 years ago."
Milton M. Basey

"Another story is told about [my great-great-grandmother] Pilar at the time of the construction of the present state capitol building. Of her being on Congress Avenue and seeing the chain-gangs under armed mounted guards being led to work. Pilar would drop to her knees, make the sign of the cross and offer up prayers for their souls."
Danny Camacho

"I don't care whether you support whoever's in office or not, the Office of the Presidency is worthy of respect, and here I was, a couple of days before the invasion of Iraq, standing before the wife of the leader of the free world in my bathrobe and underwear, with my pale, hairy legs showing."
James Scott Bankston

"The Pecan Trees at Metz Elementary are tall, and they can reach the sky. They look like big giants watching over us."
Marissa Barrera, 2nd Grade 

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