Austin History Center

Let the People Speak! Video Collection

An Inventory of the Collection

Collection Summary

Creator: Laughlin, Trella
Title: Let the People Speak! Video Collection
Dates: 1981-1993
Abstract: Let the People Speak! was a local television program that aired on Austin’s community access station, from 1980 to 1996. It was created and produced by Trella Ann Laughlin and covered various performances, cultural events, and social justice issues both locally and internationally. This collection contains a sample of the programming from 1981 to 1993.
Accession number: AR.2007.027
Quantity: 4 linear feet (4 boxes)
Location: Archives Video Collection Room
Language: English
Repository: Austin History Center, Austin Public Library,
810 Guadalupe, PO Box 2287, Austin, TX 78768

Administrative History

Let the People Speak! was a local television program that aired on Austin’s community access station, from 1980 to 1996. It was created and produced by Trella Ann Laughlin and covered various performances, cultural events, and social justice issues both locally and internationally.

Laughlin received a B.A. in English and sociology from Baylor University, and a M.A. in communications and journalism from Stanford University. She moved to Austin in 1970 and taught classes at Austin Community College. During that time, Laughlin joined with other anti-racists in opposing the rise of the Ku Klux Klan which was organizing in Texas in the early 1980s.

Utilizing the facilities of Austin Community Television (ACTV), Laughlin began producing weekly episodes of Let the People Speak! out of a resistance to racism. It was cablecast in Austin, but also in Madison, WI, Washington, D.C., Oakland, CA, and San Francisco, CA. In 1984, Laughlin joined the Foundation for a Compassionate Society founded by native Texan Genevieve Vaughan to support programs for social change. Let the People Speak! received funding for more projects through the foundation. The series won several awards, including a 1988 national Hometown USA Video Award and a 1994 ACTV Video Award.

Scope and Contents

The Let the People Speak! Video Collection is made up of 52 videotapes (3/4 inch U-matics) that document women’s issues, racism, cultural celebrations, musicians, artists, protests, demonstrations, and local events. The Women-Focused Celebrations and Interviews series primarily documents International Women’s Day 1988 and 1992. Interviews about the Austin Women’s Peace House, Third World Women’s Project, and Wing Chung Academy are also included in this series, along with comedy by Sally Jacques and Heloise Gold and music by Eloise Burrell.

The Anti-Klan Demonstrations and Documentation series contains the bulk of the collection, with 16 tapes primarily documenting the KKK rallies and anti-Klan marches that took place in Austin in the early 1980s. There are also episodes that document the Anti-Klan Speakout! that took place in 1993.

The bulk of the Latinx Celebrations and Interviews series covers the Dia de la Raza festival that was held in Austin on October 12, 1991, at Fiesta Gardens. It was the sixth annual celebration, and included an eight-hour lineup of music, dance, and poetry. Interviews with artist Raul Valdez on his mural at Juárez-Lincoln University in 1983 prior to and after the demolition of the building are also included. Additionally, there is footage of a 1988 Austin Peace and Justice Coalition forum with various local and international panelists. The African Diaspora Celebrations series contains one video, titled "The New People," which was a multicultural, interdisciplinary performance emphasizing writings and dance that took the audience from Africa to the Americas. It was directed by Bashira and funded by the City of Austin Arts Commission and the Texas Arts Commission. It was performed at the Dia de la Raza festival on October 12, 1991. The performance featured such Austin artists as Irene Gonzales, Rodney Garza, Toni Bravo, Alli Aweusi, Gail Everett, Noellia Orgiz, choreographer Frances Vidal and Melecumbe, and Mila Kerr.

The Native American Celebrations and Interviews series contains two tapes. An episode from December 1985 features artists Marcia Gomez and Mary Sue Galindo, and a 1991 episode features poet Raul Salinas and a Native American Sun Dance. The Assorted Protests, Demonstrations, and Events series contains video of early 1990s performances by Sally Jacques at the Texas Capitol for Peace Day and World AIDS Day, and also at Barton Springs. There is also 1990s footage of an Austin Farm Workers picket and an Iraq War protest. An undated benefit for South African freedom held at Liberty Lunch and footage of the 1987 Austin Peace Festival are also included in this series.


Ward, Pamela. "Dia de la Raza Celebrates Cultural Unity," Austin American-Statesman, October 13, 1991: B1.


The collection is arranged into six series:

  • Women-Focused Celebrations and Interviews
  • Anti-Klan Demonstrations and Documentation
  • Latinx Celebrations and Interviews
  • African Diaspora Celebrations
  • Native American Celebrations and Interviews
  • Assorted Protests, Demonstrations, and Events


Access Restrictions

Open to all users

Advance notice is required for any audiovisual materials that do not have an access copy already created. Turnaround time for requested access copies will be no less than one week and is determined by the number of items requested and their duration.

Use Restrictions

The Austin History Center (AHC) is the owner of the physical materials in the AHC collections and makes available reproductions for research, publication, and other uses. Written permission must be obtained from the AHC before any publication use. The AHC does not necessarily hold copyright to all of the materials in the collections. In some cases, permission for use may require seeking additional authorization from the copyright owners. Consult repository for more details.

Index Terms

Subjects (Persons)
Alvarado, Elvia.
Bashira, Damali.
Beam, Louis.
Benjamin, Medea.
Biko, Steve.
Bridgforth, Sharon.
Burrell, Eloise.
Conroy, Mike.
DaSilva, Josephine.
Duncan, Deborah.
Farenthold, Frances.
Galindo, Mary Sue.
Gold, Heloise.
Gomez, Marcia.
Guzman, Maria.
Hampton, Ron.
Hernandez, Paul.
Hilliard, Zack.
Houston, Jean Marie.
Jackson, Arlene.
Jaques, Sally.
Laughlin, Trella.
Limon, Mary.
Mancias, Adelia.
Mills, Gisele.
Molina, Dan.
Payne, Skywalker.
Ritter, Carolyn.
Rodriguez, Sarita.
Salinas, Raul.
Scott, Nancy.
Shipman, Sally.
Sisnett, Ana.
Turner, Dorothy.
Valdez, Raul.
Walker, Brad.
Subjects (Organizations)
Austin Brown Berets.
Austin Peace and Justice Coalition.
Austin Women’s Peace House.
Foundation for a Compassionate Society.
International Women’s Festival.
National Congress of World Workers.
Third World Women’s Project.
Wing Chung Academy.
Xinachtli Aztec Dance Company.
Cultural arts--Texas--Austin.
Women’s rights--Texas--Austin.
Women--Texas--Social conditions.
Political activists--Texas--Austin.
Race discrimination--Social aspects--Texas--Austin.
Mexican American women.
African American women.
Native American women.
Austin (Tex.)--Race relations.
Austin (Tex.)--Social conditions.
Austin (Tex.)--Songs and music.
Barton Springs (Tex.).
Bastrop (Tex.).
Zilker Park (Tex.).
Texas State Capitol.
Las Manitas Café (Austin, Tex.).
Liberty Lunch (Austin, Tex.).
Juarez Lincoln Building (Austin, Tex.).
Club Islas (Austin, Tex.).
Texas State Capitol (Austin, Tex.).
Grassroots Peace Organizations Building (Austin, Tex.).
Document Types
Videocassettes (U-matic).

Related Material

Austin Files

  • AF Biography - Laughlin, Trella Ann
  • AF Biography - Bridgforth, Sharon
  • AF Biography - Farenthold, Frances
  • AF Biography - Hernandez, Paul
  • AF Biography - Salinas, Raul
  • AF Biography - Shipman, Sally
  • AF Biography - Sisnett, Ana
  • AF Biography - Turner, Dorothy
  • AF Biography - Valdez, Raul
  • AF Subject - Austin Community Television AF T0700 (2)
  • AF Subject - Brown Berets M4300 (4)
  • AF Subject - Juarez-Lincoln University M4300 (3)
  • AF Subject - Peace and Justice Coalition P7750 (12)
  • AF Subject - Ku Klux Klan S1600 (3)
  • AF Subject - Austin Women For Peace W5000 (25)
  • AF Subject - Foundation for a Compassionate Society W5000 (30)

Archives & Manuscripts


  • Voices for a Compassionate Society
  • Austin Peace & Justice News
  • Undercurrents: A Project for the Peace & Justice Education Fund
  • La Conciencia

General Collection

  • A 327.172 TE Austin Peace & Justice Coalition, Texas March for Peace & Justice Oct. 22. 1983.
  • A 384.55532 WH White, Christopher Francis, Eye on the Sparrow: Community Access Television in Austin, Texas. 1988.
  • A VHS 305.42 FE V 1, Feminist Family Values Forum. 1996.
  • A 305.42 FE, Feminist Family Values Forum: Mililani Trask, Gloria Steinem, Angela Davis, María Jiménez. 1996.

Administrative Information

Custodial History

The collection was donated by the creator and producer of Let the People Speak! in 2007. She curated the selection of these specific tapes for preservation at the Austin History Center.

Preferred Citation

Let the People Speak! Video Collection (AR.2007.027). Austin History Center, Austin Public Library, Texas.

Acquisition Information

Donor #: DO/2007/019

Donation Date: 2007 March 7

Processing Information

Initial inventory and finding aid by Tim Hamblin and Susan Worley in November 2008. Final processing and encoded finding aid by Kelly Hanus in May 2018.

Detailed Description of the Collection

Women-Focused Celebrations and Interviews, 1986-1992

Box Tape
1 001 “International Women’s Day: 1988” - music by Mary Sue Galindo, Sarita Rodriguez, Amaya, and Arlene Jackson, 1988 March 6
002 “International Women’s Festival” - Austin poets and musicians at UT’s Texas Tavern, 1988
003 “International Women’s Day 1988” - Tape 1: C.K. McFarland, Austin comic; Nancy Scott, Austin musician; filmed at Club Islas, 1988 March 4
004 “International Women’s Day 1988” - Tape 2: Judy Edwards, singer; Maria Limon, poet; Eloise Burrell, singer; Jean Marie Houston; filmed at Club Islas, 1988 March 4
005 “The Austin Women’s Peace House” - Interview with Bashira about the art at The AWPH and its work, 1990 October
006 “Third World Women’s Project” - Ana Sisnett, Josephine daSilva, and Gisele Mills, 1990
007 “Visiones y Palabras/Words and Visions” - cultural presentations by women on International Women’s Day 1992; filmed at Las Manitas Café; featuring Sharon Bridgforth, Deborah Duncan, and Maria Limon, 1992
008 “Self Defense for Women” - interview and demonstration with Carolyn Ritter, Wing Chung Academy; originally recorded at Austin Cablevision Studio, 1986 July 29
009 “Sally Jacques and Heloise Gold” - comedy routine, 1988
010-011 Eloise Burrell, undated

Anti-Klan Demonstrations and Documentation, 1981-1993

Box Tape
2 012 Anti-Klan People's March in Austin, Texas, 1984 April 14
013 Black-and-white secret footage of a Ku Klux Klan rally, cross burning, and Louis Beam speech. Footage provided by Brad Walker, Rice University student, undated
014-015 "Anti-Klan Speakout!" - Austin community speaks out against Ku Klux Klan, 1993 February 8
016-017 "Race and the Criminal Justice System" - Austin discussion group with Officer Ron Hampton, 1991 September 14
018 Raw footage of the Anti-Klan March; KKK March in Austin; the Zack Hilliard killing, 1983
019 Studio footage of Ku Klux Klan photographs, undated
020 "Anti-Klan Speakout!" original footage, 1993
021 The Southern Poverty Law Center's documentary on the Ku Klux Klan, undated
022 Demonstration against the KKK's interviews on Austin's channel 36; footage from the KKK rally in Bastrop, Texas, 1982
023 "The Rebirth of the Klan" - Dan Molino's report on KPRC, 1981
024 Footage of KKK from KTTV; photos of Klan; Greensboro, NC killing of demonstrators; photos from Austin and Bastrop, undated
025 Adelia Mancias and Maria Guzman speaking against the KKK to the Austin City Council, 1983
026 "Press Conference 1983" - Austin Police beating anti-Klan demonstrators; Dorothy Turner and the Austin Brown Berets; Paul Hernandez, Adela Mancias, Maria Limon; Austin City Hall, 1983 February 25
027 Anti-Klan, Brown Berets, undated
028 "The KKK March in Austin" - Austin Police beating anti-Klan demonstrators (raw footage), 1983

Latinx Celebrations and Interviews, 1983-1991

Box Tape
3 029-036 "Dia de la Raza" - celebration in the park, including footage of Xinachtli Aztec Dance Company, 1991 October 12
037 "Austin Peace and Justice Coalition Forum" - Dr. Mike Conroy, University of Texas; Sally Shipman, Austin City Council; Frances Farenthold, Foundation for a Compassionate Society; Elvia Alvarado, representing the National Congress of World Workers Honduras; translated by Medea Benjamin, 1988 January 7
038-039 "Juarez Lincoln Building Mural" - shots of the mural, interviews, shots of the wrecking ball destroying the cultural center, 1983
040 "Raul Valdez" - shots of his murals and interview, 1983

African Diaspora Celebrations, undated

Box Tape
4 043 "The New People" - music and movement from Africa to America; music in the park, undated

Native American Celebrations and Interviews, 1985, 1991

Box Tape
4 042 "North Meets South: An Indigenous Perspective" - Marcia Gomez, Austin sculptor; Mary Sue Galindo, Austin artist, 1985 December 4
047 "Raul Salinas: Report from Big Mountain" - Native American Sun Dance, 1991

Assorted Protests, Demonstrations, and Events 1987-1992

Box Tape
4 041 "Austin Farm Workers" - picket at Austin's Channel 7 (dub from 8mm), 1991 September 29
044 "Inside the Springs" - performance by Sally Jacques and the Austin community to honor Barton Springs, 1992
045 "Inside the Heart" - performance by Sally Jacques at the Texas Capitol for Peace Day, 1991 September
046 "Day Without Art/Night Without Light" - performance by Sally Jacques at the Texas Capitol for World AIDS Day, 1991 December 1
048 "Iraqi War Vigil" - protestors at Texas Capitol, 1992 December 16
049-051 "Steve Biko Benefit" - benefit for South African freedom at Liberty Lunch, undated
052 "The Austin Peace Festival" - various footage of singers, children, peace messages read in the park, 1987 May 9