As the “front porch” of The University of Texas at Austin, the Center for Community Engagement seeks to cultivate meaningful connections among residents, community leaders, and other stakeholders in Austin neighborhoods.
Inspired by the CCE’s Front Porch Gatherings, Conversations from the Front Porch feature intimate, timely and candid conversations with experts who provide context for Austin’s community priorities to inform and inspire collaborative action.
Previous Conversations from the Front Porch
On Tuesday, November 29, 2022, the UT Center for Community Engagement, in collaboration with the John L. Warfield Center and The Black Diaspora Archive, held a public screening of “The Making of Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard” at the John L. Warfield Center. This pre-recorded Conversations From the Front Porch featured the Austin Black Assembly members Eva June Lindsey, Joel Bennett, and Reverend Freddie Dixon. This group of East Austin activists fought from 1975-1976 to rename 19th Street to Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard.
A lively conversation with Erna Smith and the members of the Austin Black Assembly followed the screening. Through the members’ stories, a total of 70 community members, students, faculty, and staff better understood the struggle and the complex political and racial tensions that the event fomented. The powerful and moving conversation ended with words of wisdom and encouragement for students.
The UT Center for Community Engagement, John L. Warfield Center, The Black Diaspora Archive, and LILLAS Benson Library would like to thank everyone who attended the event.
To share this story with the University and Central Texas community members, the pre-recorded conversation can be accessed via UT Center for Community Engagement YouTube channel.
We also ask attendees to complete this post-event survey to continue cultivating meaningful connections among residents, community leaders, and other stakeholders in Austin neighborhoods.
Erica Mason Colvin, Founder of Mallori.org
Erica Mason Colvin is the founder of Mallori.org. She holds a Bachelor’s in Education and a Master’s in Social Service. Her background includes juvenile parole and probation casework, foster care advocacy, public speaking, classroom instruction, behavior teacher, Special Populations Department Chair, and Restorative Practitioner/Coordinator/Trainer. Erica possesses a unique mix of knowledge, experience, and training. She has facilitated circles and trained educators and district personnel around the state of Texas in Restorative Practices. She began her restorative journey as part of the TEA rollout of Restorative Discipline for all Education Service Centers in Texas. Mrs. Erica L. Mason-Colvin remains committed to the social movement that is Restorative Justice in the community and beyond.
Dr. Lorna Hermosura, Project Director of STEP UP Texas & Asst. Professor of Instruction at UT Austin College of Education
Lorna Hermosura, PhD is the Project Director of STEP UP Texas: Improving Juvenile Justice Outcomes through Trauma-Informed and Restorative Practices Training – a project funded by a grant from the U.S. Department of Justice that aims to reduce Racial and Ethnic Disparities (RED) in engagement with the juvenile justice system. STEP UP provides training and technical support in Trauma-Informed and Restorative Practices to those working in: public school districts, law enforcement, and the judicial system. The project is a partnership between The University of Texas at Austin, Williamson County Juvenile Services, and Bluebonnet Trails Community Services. In addition, Lorna teaches Restorative Practices in UT’s College of Education as an Asst. Professor of Instruction. Prior to earning her PhD, Lorna led programs to support college access, college success, and dropout prevention.
Pamela Benson Owens, CEO of SixSquare
Pamela Benson Owens is the President and CEO of Edge of Your Seat Consulting, Inc and is also in her third year of serving as the CEO of Six Square. For 25+ years Pam has owned Edge of Your Seat Consulting, a unique consulting firm that is dedicated to assisting for-profit, nonprofit, and faith-based entities. The major focus of Edge of Your Seat Consulting, Inc., is to provide methodologies that help manage perceptions and narratives about complex and challenging issues with courage and strategic passion.
She humbly serves on the faculty of the Center for Nonprofit Excellence at Austin Community College and enjoys helping fundraising professionals in understanding not only the fundamentals of fundraising but also donor motivations. Pam leverages humor and honest storytelling to create memorable and applicable strategies for sustainable and substantive change.
Harrison Eppright, Professional Tour Guide & Historian at Visit Austin
Harrison Eppright is a professional tour guide who is based out of Austin, Texas. He has been providing high quality sightseeing tours for over 16 years and has won the ACVB Employee of the year in 2008. Harrison is very passionate about history, African American cultural heritage, and architecture.
Rachel Winston, Black Diaspora Archivist at the University of Texas at Austin
Rachel E. Winston is the inaugural Black Diaspora Archivist at The University of Texas at Austin. In this role, she is leading the university’s effort to build a library special collection documenting the Black experience across the Americas and Caribbean. Her work promotes research and study on the Black Diaspora through primary source material, curated exhibitions, and archival activism. Rachel is an alumna of Davidson College, the Coro Fellows Program in Public Affairs, and The University of Texas at Austin.
Dr. Tara Dudley, Author & Lecturer at the University of Texas at Austin School of Architecture
Tara Dudley is the author of Building Antebellum New Orleans: Free People of Color and Their Influence (University of Texas Press, 2021) and of a forthcoming biography on John Saunders Chase, 1925-2012. Her research examines the contributions of African American builders and architects to the American built environment, focusing on the antebellum and Reconstruction eras in Austin and Texas. She is the author of Building Antebellum New Orleans: Free People of Color and Their Influence (University of Texas Press, 2021) and of a forthcoming biography on John Saunders Chase, 1925-2012. Dr. Dudley is a Lecturer in The University of Texas at Austin School of Architecture where she looks forward to commencing the next phase of her career starting in January 2022.
Virginia Brown, Associate Professor in the Department of Population Health, Community Engagement, & Health Equity at Dell Medical School
Deliana Garcia, Director of International Projects & Emerging Issues at the Migrant Clinicians Network
Development on the Block: Reflections on Supporting Historically Black Communities
Tanya Debose, Founder of Preserving Communities of Color and Executive Director of the Independence Heights Redevelopment Council
Greg Smith, President & CEO of the Austin Revitalization Authority
Meagan Longley, Vice President of Community Impact
Austin Community Foundation
Frances Jordan, Director of Policy & Social Equity
Sara Reeves, Director of Mission Advancement Operations
United Way for Greater Austin