Austin History Center

Black Citizens Task Force Records

An Inventory to the Collection

Overview of the Collection

Creator: Black Citizens Task Force
Title: Black Citizens Task Force Records
Abstract: The Black Citizens Task Force was a grassroots political organization founded in Austin, Texas in 1972 by a group of concerned Austin citizens that included, Dr. John Warfield, former City Council member Charles Urdy, Velma Roberts, Larry Jackson, Charles Miles and others. The group, which existed primarily between the 1970s and early 2000s, formed in order to combat racism against the African American Community. Dorothy Turner joined the organization in 1974 and became its president in 1979. She was the last person to hold this title as well as the longest holder of this position. The recipient of various awards, Turner was an outspoken proponent of civil rights for the underprivileged, minorities and women. The collection (1979-2004) consists mainly of organizational records during Turner's presidency and includes correspondence, programs, printed material, clippings, research material, photographs, and audiovisual material.
Identification: AR.2004.037
Quantity: 16.6 linear feet (25 boxes)
Location: Archives Stacks, Archives Video Collection Room G22, Artifacts, qAR
Language: The records are in English.
Repository: Austin History Center, Austin Public Library
810 Guadalupe,, PO BOX 2287, Austin, TX 78768

Administrative History

A group of concerned Austin citizens that included, Dr. John Warfield, former City Council member Charles Urdy, Velma Roberts, Larry Jackson, Charles Miles and others started the Black Citizens Task Force (BCTF) in 1972. According to the BCTF brochure, they organized with the intent "to bring about fundamental political, economic and social change to people of African descent, through liberation from racism and capitalism." In the beginning, BCTF's mission dealt with equality in employment. It later expanded to encompass education, health, housing and other areas that afflicted the community, such as police brutality. Additionally, the group was a strong supporter of the anti-apartheid movement.

Two of the most visible members of the Black Citizens Task Force were Dorothy Turner and Velma Roberts. Roberts helped to found the Black Citizens Task Force. Turner joined the organization in 1974, and became the president in 1979. She was the last person to hold the title of president as well as the longest holder of this position. Both women were outspoken proponents of civil rights for underprivileged, minorities and women. Locally, they were known as "Batman and Robin" and received a multitude of awards for their dedication to advancing civil rights and highlighting community issues through grassroots activism. Examples of such activism under Turner's leadership include leading efforts to get city officials to hire more women and minorities, partnering with groups such as the Brown Berets to protest the Ku Klux Klan (KKK) activities, partnering with University of Texas students to fight racism on UT campus, building and supporting organizations that engaged the youth of Austin in positive activities, supporting East Austin building initiatives that provided community centers for neighborhood activities, initiating a city-wide Kwanzaa celebration, and producing the local TV show Liberation and the radical newspaper, Grassroots Struggle, both of which addressed issues of equality, racism, and discrimination.

Biographical Note

Dorothy Turner, (1935-2005) was born and raised in Austin, TX. She worked for the City of Austin in a variety positions for 26 years where she noted the inequality to minorities and women. It was her experience at the city that galvanized her to take action by organizing employees, writing complaints, and confronting supervisors. As an employee at Brackenridge hospital, she filed two complaints with the EEO regarding low wages and immobility of minority employees that directly led to the rising of wages and promotions. In 1977, she filed a class action law suit against the City of Austin citing discriminatory hiring practices. Soon afterwards, the first African American personnel director and female assistant city manager were hired. That same year, she became the president of the BCTF. She served as its longest as well as its last president. During her tenure, Turner fought against racism and discrimination on local, national, and global scales.

Velma Roberts, (1930-2000) was born and raised in Austin, TX. She trained as a paralegal, and worked in legal aid for 10 years. She was one of the founding members of the BCTF. Some of her numerous accomplishments include serving on the first committee to launch KAZI radio station, "a local non-commercial community radio that serves the African American community"; helping launch Johnson's War on Poverty programs, which included helping to organize the first Head Start program and a breakfast program for children; in 1969, she founded, and later became the first president of the local chapter of the National Welfare Rights Organization, she was later elected state representative to the National Welfare Organization; she founded activist group, Sisters in the Hood; she also fought against busing East Austin children to other schools during desegregation and later helped to found a short-lived alternative school for children.

Scope and Contents

The Black Citizens Task Force collection (1979-2004) consists primarily of documents related to the organization's operations during Dorothy Turner's presidency. It includes correspondence, programs, printed materials, clippings, research materials, photographs, as well as audio and video material. The collection is divided into twelve series. The Clippings, Correspondence and Research Material series provide the greatest insight into the organization's activites and views.

Series One, Biographical Information (1979-2006) contains background information on BCTF members, awards presented to Turner and Roberts, clippings about Turner and Turner's personal correspondence.

Series Two, Organizational Records (1979-2001) contains organizational materials such as governing documents, financial materials, agendas, meeting notes, membership rosters, contact lists, organizational templates, petitions, printed materials, flyers, brochures, legal materials, and advertisements. The printed materials folder displays examples of marketing materials that show the causes the BCTF supported.

Series Three, Correspondence (1975-2000) contains correspondence to and from various individuals and organizations. Notable within this series are letters to and from government officials, including mayors and city councilmen.

Series Four, Grievances (1977-2000) contains documents that highlight BCTF participation in helping individuals fight racism, and discrimination through the grievance process. This material is organized by company/organization name.

Series Five, Programs (1989-2001) contains information about programs that the BCTF initiated or supported such as outreach programs, youth programs, employment programs and celebrations.

Series Six, Other Organizations (1987-1997) contains documents from other organizations in which Dorothy Turner took an active role.

Series Seven, Research Material (1974-2001) contains research materials relating to events, organizations, people, and issues that were important to the BCTF. This series contains information files that were kept by the BCTF. They include information on important issues of the time,such as the death of Ekiye Evans at the hands of the Austin Police dept in 1984 and a small amount of information on the events that followed.

Series Eight, Clippings (1975-2000) contains information relating to events, organizations, people, and issues that were important to the BCTF. This series contains information files that were kept by the BCTF. They include information on important issues of that time, including police brutality, KKK activity in the area, general information on Eric Mitchell, and the incarceration of twelve-year old Lacresha Murray for the death of two-year old Jayla Belton in 1996.

Series Nine, Photographs (undated) contains black and white and color images of BCTF events and members. Most of the material is unspecified.

Series Ten, Scrapbooks (1978-2001) contains scrapbooks, event logs, calendars, and address books that highlight organizational activities. This series contains information, mostly clippings, on the death of Gill Couch at the hands of Austin police force in 1979, KKK activities, and letters of congratulation to Turner on awards she received.

Series Eleven, Artifacts (undated) contains three dimensional items such as political buttons, T-Shirts, BCTF sashes, and a silk screen.

Series Twelve, Audiovisual Material (1979-1999) contains audio cassette tapes and both VHS and ¾" Umatic video recordings of BCTF events and programs. Also, broadcasts of the BCTF television program Liberation and a program produced by Trella Laughlin entitled Let the People Speak!

The John L. Warfield Center for African and African American Studies at the University of Texas at Austin houses a collection of documents pertaining to the BCTF and founding member, Dr. John Warfield. This collection may hold information that covers the earlier years of the BCTF, 1972-1979.


This collection is arranged into twelve series:
I. Biographical Information
II. Organizational Records
III. Correspondence
IV. Grievances
V. Programs
VI. Other Organizations
VII. Research Material
VIII. Clippings
IX. Photographs
X. Scrapbooks
XI. Artifacts
XII. Audiovisual Material


Restrictions on Access

Open to all users.

Restrictions on Use


Index Terms

This record series is indexed under the following controlled access subject terms.
Turner, Dorothy
Roberts, Velma
Laughlin, Trella
Black Citizens Task Force
Human Rights Commission
Brackenridge Hospital
City of Austin Police Force
Austin (Tex).
Grassroots politics
Document Types:
Audiovisual Material

Related Material

Biography Files

  • AF- Turner, Dorothy
  • AF- Roberts, Velma
  • AF- Warfield, Dr. John
  • AF- Urdy, Dr. Charles
  • AF- Miles, Charles
  • AF- Laughlin, Trella

Video Collection

AR. 2007.027 - Let the People Speak!


Grassroots Struggle, Jan. 1982- Aug/ Sept. 1984

Separated Material

To Periodicals

Grassroots Struggle, Jan. 1982, vol 1, no 1

Grassroots Struggle,Sept. 1982, vol 1, no 9

Grassroots Struggle, Oct. to Nov. 1982, vol 1, no 10

Grassroots Struggle, Feb. 1983, vol 2, no 2

Grassroots Struggle, May to June 1983, vol 2, no 4

Grassroots Struggle, Aug. 1983, vol 2, no 5

Grassroots Struggle, Jan. 1984, vol 3, no 1

Grassroots Struggle, Aug. to Sept. 1982, vol 3, no 4

Capital City Argus, Jul. 29, 1983, vol 21, no 26

Nokoa, Dec. 18, 1997, vol 11, no 51

The Capital City Argus, Jul. 10, 1981, vol 19, no 29

The Capital City Argus, Jul. 1, 1983, vol 21, no 23

Nokoa, Nov. 13, 1997, vol 11, no 46 to periodicals

Nokoa, May 7, 1998, vol 12, no 19 to periodicals

The Capital City Argus, Jul. 24, 1981, vol 19, no 31

The Capital City Argus, Mar. 10, 1984, vol 22, no 11

The Live Oak Fund, Winter, 1988-1989

In Fact, No. 155, Aug. 4,1998

ADM Information, Aug. 23, 1988, Vol. 7, No. 25

Drum: The Official Newsletter of Ebony Connection,Vol. 3, No. 11

Austin Lambda Newsletter, Feb. 1989


Duplicates and material of a personal or confidential nature.

Administrative Information

Custodial History

The collection is composed of donations from Eli Moten, Dorothy Turner, and Susan Richardson. Eli Moten, son of Dorothy Turner, made a donation in 1987, Turner made donations in 2004 and 2005, and Richardson, upon instruction from Turner, donated material in 2006 and 2013, after Turner's death.

Preferred Citation

Black Citizens Task Force Records (AR.2004.037) Austin History Center, Austin Public Library, Texas

Acquisition Information

Donor #: DO/1987/057

Donation Date: 1987, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2013

Processing Information

Finding Aid created and encoded by Cynthia Evans in 2013. Revisions by Susan Rittereiser, 2014.

Detailed Description of the Collection

I. Biographical Information, 1979-2006

Box Folder
1 1 General information on Dorothy Turner, 1987-undated
2 Awards presented to Turner, 1979-1999
3 Personal Correspondence, 1985-2000, undated
4 Clippings, 1989-2006
5 General information on BCTF and its Members, 2000, undated

II. Organizational Records, 1979-2001

Box Folder
1 6 Governing documents, undated
7 General financial material, 1989-1992, undated
8 Financial statements, 1989-1995
9 BCTF agenda and meeting notes, 1985-1986
10 Membership roster/contact list, undated
11 Contact list/ sign-in sheets, 1989-1997, undated
Box Folder
2 1 BCTF templates of documents and collateral material, undated
2 Petitions, 1986-1988, undated
3 Printed material, 1979-1998
4 Printed material, undated
5 Flyers and brochures, 1979-2001
6 Flyers and brochures, undated
7 Legal material, 1985-1996
8 Advertisements, 1982-1991

III. Correspondence, 1977-2000

Box Folder
2 9 Correspondence, 1975-1979
10 Correspondence, 1980-1983
11 Correspondence, 1984-1986
Box Folder
3 1 Correspondence, 1987
2 Correspondence, 1988-1989
3 Correspondence, 1990-1991
4 Correspondence, 1991
5 Correspondence, 1992-1993
6 Correspondence, 1994-1996
7 Correspondence, 1997-1999
Box Folder
4 1 Correspondence, 2000
2 Correspondence, undated
3 Correspondence, Government correspondence

IV. Grievances, 1979-2000

Box Folder
4 4 General grievances, undated
5 AISD, 1986-1989
6 AISD, 1991-2000, undated
7 ACTV, 1991-2000, undated
8 Brackenridge Hospital, 1979-1984, undated
9 Brackenridge Hospital, 1985-1989
Box Folder
5 1 Brackenridge Hospital, 1990-1993
2 Brackenridge Hospital, 1994
3 Brackenridge Hospital, 1995, undated
4 Capital Metro, 1985-1990
5 City of Austin, 1986-1989
6 City of Austin, 1989
7 City of Austin, 1991-2000
8 COA police department, 1985-1989
Box Folder
6 1 COA police department, 1990-1996, undated
2 Smithville Police, 1986
3 Prison system, 1985-1999
4 Texas Dept. of Health 1989-1991,undated
5 Housing Authority, 1986
6 State Schools, 1986-1989
7 Marriot, 1989
8 Travis Co. Dept. of Human Services, 1988

V. Programs, 1987-2001

Box Folder
6 9 Unity Day, 2000-2001
10 Liberation, 1987-1989
11 Kwanzaa, 1999-2001
12 DeWitty Job Center and Fre3, 1997
13 Jump On It, 1997
Box Folder
7 1 Jump On It, 1997
2 BCTF summer jobs program, 1991, undated

IV. Other Organizations, 1987-1997

Box Folder
7 3 Human Rights Commission, 1990-1991
4 Human Rights Commission, 1992
5 Human Rights Commission, 1994-1997,undated
6 Human Rights Commission Reports, 1995, undated
7 Boards and Commissions index, undated
Box Folder
8 1 ACTV, 1991-1992
2 ACTV, 1992
3 Misc. organizations, 1987-1997
4 Eastside Field, 1994-1995

VII. Research Material, 1983-2000

Box Folder
8 5 Death of Ekiye Evans, 1983-1984
6 Death of Ekiye Evans, 1985-1986
7 LaCresha Murray documents, 1996-1997
8 Advanced Micro Devices 1994
Box Folder
9 1 Community Justice Pilot Program, 1993-1994
2 East 11st. and 12st. development, 1995
3 Model on Police Policy and Conduct, 1992-1993
4 Notes, 1974-1989
5 Notes, 1990-1999, undated
6 Eric Mitchell, 1997-2000
7 Joot Media, 1999-2000
8 Police community relations, 1980
9 Minority Business Enterprise program, undated
10 Cedar Ave., 2000
11 City Council agenda list, 1985-1989
12 Rosewood Park, 1985-1989
Box Folder
10 1 African American Employee Network, 1996
2 University of Texas, 1986, undated
3 Ethnic Inequalities in COA payroll, 1990-1992
4 Political publication of other organizations, 1979-1991
5 Political publications, 1987-1991

VIII. Clippings, 1979-2000

Box Folder
10 6 Community issues, 1979-1997
7 DeWitty Center, 1991-1992
8 Cedar Ave. incident, 1995-2000
9 Discrimination, 1986-1996
10 Velma Roberts , undated
11 Anderson High School, 1983
12 AISD, 1983-1998
13 Celebrations, 1992-1999
14 Day of Atonement, 1997,undated
15 Susan Richardson, 1996-1999
16 Eddie Reeves, 1986-1988
17 KKK, 1982-1994
18 News articles submitted by the BCTF, 1979-1992
19 General BCTF information, 1977-1999
20 Jump On It, 1997
21 Death of Ekiye Evans, 1984-1985
Box Folder
11 1 LaCresha Murray, 1996
2 LaCresha Murray, 1998-2000
3 Police issues, 1979-1999
4 African American women, 1975
5 Racism, 1990-1996, undated
6 Eric Mitchell, 1994-1997,undated undated
7 Africa, undated

IX. Photographs, undated

Box Folder
11 8 Photographs, undated
9 Photographs, undated
10 Photographs, undated
11 Photographs, undated
12 Photographs, undated

X. Scrapbooks, 1981-1999

Box Folder
11 13 Event log-in books, 1989-1999
14 Calendar and address books, 1985-1989
Box Folder
12 1 BCTF events, 1981-1984
2 General notes scrapbook, 1997
3 Zachary Hillard scrapbook, 1984-1985
4 KKK scrapbook, 1979-2001
Box Folder
13 1 Grill Couch, 1979
2 Grill Couch, 1979-1980
3 General Scrapbook, 1978-1979, undated

XI. Artifacts, undated

Location BoxItem
Artifacts 115/001 Eric Mitchell political button, undated
115/002 Jessie Jackson political button, undated
115/003 BCTF T-shirt, (2) undated
115/004 BCTF sash, (2) undated
Location FlatFile
qAR 03/09/001 BCTF logo silk screen, undated
57/031 "Blue on Black Crime" poster, 1990
57/032 "Break the Links...." poster, undated

XII. Audiovisual Material, 1979-1999

Location RoomG22
Recordings Collection Archives Collection 1979-1999