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Over the course of approximately ten years, I conducted a series of fifteen life history interviews with Ada Collins Anderson (1921-2021), an African American civil rights pioneer and Democratic Party leader in Austin, Texas. Anderson was born into a middle-class, landowning family in Travis County and grew up in a large, close-knit, and loving extended family. Her ancestors include African and African American slaves, Anglo slaveholders, buffalo soldiers, midwives, Native Americans, carpenters, schoolteachers, farmers and community builders. When the University of Texas was opened to African American graduate students in 1951 she enrolled in the School of Library Science. However, she remembered that she could not attend field trips along with her white classmates including a visit to the Texas State Archives, because blacks were not allowed to walk through the door of the Texas State Library. In the 1960s she was a leader in protest movements that sought equality for Austin’s African American citizens. At the same time, she and her husband Andy became involved in Democratic Party politics on both the state and national level. They were good friends with Governor John Connally and President Lyndon Baines Johnson, and attended the inauguration of President John F. Kennedy and President Johnson.



Oral History Project


Austin, Texas


1992 - 2003

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