Dr. Charles Akins, who recently passed away at the age of 84, was a civil rights advocate and much-admired educator in Austin. Dr. Akins was the first black teacher in an Austin school after integration, and the Austin Independent School District's first black principal.
He is the namesake of Akins High School in South Austin.
Several "Old" L.C. Anderson high school graduates wanted to pay tribute to Dr. Akins. Here, they share their fond memories of a legend in Austin's community.
If you would like to share your memories of Dr. Akins, please add them to the comments! We'd love to read them.
Originally posted in the Austin Statesman
February 28, 2017
By Juan Castillo
Click here for original article.
You’ll excuse Nelson Linder if his heart is heavy and his mind is weary.
Consoling the families of African-Americans shot and killed by Austin police exacts a toll like that. He’s been doing it for 17 years as president of the Austin NAACP, and on Thursday, Linder found himself in that wrenching situation yet once more, meeting with the family of a woman shot dead by police the night before in South Austin. Officers said she tried to run them over and approached one with a knife. The woman’s pastor said she lived with mental illness.
“I’ve got a son. I’ve got family. I’ve seen these deaths up-close now and, yes, I have to carry a burden,” Linder told me. “It just brings it home to me once again why we need change.”
The change Linder is talking about is how to prevent the high-profile police shootings of blacks that have become part of an ugly, long-running story in Austin. Linder believes they are the product of systemic racism and that they continue because law enforcement and institutions are not held legally accountable.
Change, he says, must begin with finding solutions; talk alone, like the one Austin residents will engage in Tuesday at a public forum, won’t do it.
Hosted by the American-Statesman and KLRU-TV, the forum is intended to generate dialogue and a better understanding about how African-Americans and police handle potentially explosive situations. Those issues were mined in an in-depth American-Statesman special report called “The Talk,” a reference to the conversations generations of black parents have had with their children about how to survive interactions with police.
“I’m a little tired of having conversations,” said Linder, who expects to participate in Tuesday’s forum nonetheless. “We should be looking at solutions and best practices and learn how to prevent these things.”
Linder sees a starting point in a remarkable 2003 report by the grand jury which indicted Austin police officer Scott Glasgow in the shooting death that year of Jessie Lee Owens in East Austin. A judge later dismissed the indictment.
In its report, the 12-member grand jury said it felt a duty to alert citizens about “a different brand” of law enforcement in minority communities.
“We see what appears to us to be a double standard and we are disturbed by it,” the grand jury said in a cover letter.
Signed by all 12 jurors, the report said that officers patrolling minority neighborhoods were typically white and had little training and little experience interacting with people who did not look like them. The situation, grand jurors said, had built a disturbing level of distrust between police and minorities.
“Austin and its citizens are fond of boasting of our diversity and tolerance, yet we find it difficult, even painful, to have a public conversation about race and the distrust that exists between certain segments of our community,” the letter said.
The grand jury called on Austin and Travis County officials and leaders to do something, beginning with leading hard conversations about race and policing. “We need to ask ourselves some tough questions and work together to find answers,” the letter said.
So, even then people were talking about the need for more talk.
The difference, says Linder, is that the grand jury took the extraordinary step to challenge institutions — including Austin Police, the City Council, district attorney, sheriff’s office and Commissioners Court — to do something.
It should be said, as “The Talk” special report noted, that Austin police acknowledge that their department had troubles in the past, but they stress positive changes undertaken over the years. Among them, the department overhauled its use-of-force policies and training, and, under former Chief Art Acevedo, it began forming relationships with groups such as the local NAACP and Black Lives Matter.
Still, problems persist, Linder says. “There have been no indictments in police shootings in most cases,” he said. “Therein lies the problem.”
Linder said public institutions must demand best practices, best training and most of all accountability from law enforcement. The Austin City Council can do more, he said. So can the Travis County Commissioners Court.
Conversations are fine, Linder said, but real change will only come when they lead to answers.
“Why are we still having this conversation in 2017?” he said. ”Why don’t we hold our institutions as named by that grand jury to a higher standard?”
(These are excerpts from an article in the Austin Statesman, see link at end of post)
The Austin City Council has approved a groundbreaking $3.25 million settlement with the family of David Joseph, the 17-year-old gunned down a year ago by an Austin police officer.
The council unanimously voted in favor of the settlement Thursday, making it the largest payout the city has made to the surviving family of a person killed at the hands of Austin police.
“While my family appreciates the professionalism and dignity with which David’s wrongful death claim was handled by the city, the Police Department, and all the lawyers involved, my family wishes to remind everyone that no amount of money could ever make up for what happened,” Joseph’s mother, Ketty Sully, said in a statement.
Adler echoed the sentiment in a statement of his own.
“Nothing we can do will bring David Joseph back,” Adler said in a statement. “I hope what we did will bring some measure of peace to his family and closure to our community. There is lots to learn from this for the city going forward so we don’t end up in this place again.”
Local NAACP President Nelson Linder said the Joseph shooting was more clear-cut than some previous shootings in which police killed minority members. As the investigation unfolded, police reviewed video that clearly showed a skinny, naked teenager being shot within seconds of first encountering former Austin police officer Geoffrey Freeman, who was fired over the shooting.
Read more in the original news post in the Austin Statesman HERE
PRESS RELEASE: AUSTIN NAACP ANNOUNCES ITS HIGH HONOR RECIPIENTS FOR THE 51ST ANNUAL DEWITTY OVERTON FREEDOM FUND BANQUET
Austin, TX (August 4, 2016) – The Austin NAACP will host its 51st Annual DeWitty/Overton Freedom Fund Banquet on Saturday, December 3, 2016. The event will begin at 6:00pm and will be held at the Hilton Austin, located at 500 East 4th Street, Austin, TX 78701.
This year the chapter is pleased to present as the theme for our 51st installment of this event: “Improving Infrastructure in Austin’s Disadvantaged Communities as a Basis for Economic Empowerment.”
The Austin branch of the NAACP has worked diligently to address the key economic, social and political issues facing people of color. As a result, the DeWitty/Overton Freedom Fund Banquet has established itself as one of the premier events in the capital city of Texas where consistently the chapter celebrates the diverse accomplishments of men and women throughout the community.
Last year, the Austin NAACP proudly hosted over 800 attendees for the highly acclaimed DeWitty/Overton Freedom Fund Banquet 2015 Silver Anniversary.
Below are the names of the individuals that will receive High Honors at our 2016 event”:
Community Service awards for 2016 will be announced at a later date.
For more information visit the organization's website at www.naacpaustin.com. Contact the Austin NAACP offices -- Nelson Linder, President via telephone at: (512) 695-6674 or email at: email@example.com. You can also reach the media contact for the organization – Kimberly Gist at (832) 953-4478/(917) 327-1576 or Kimberly@gistanevent.com.
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For frequent updates, visit the Facebook page of Nelson Linder