Dorothy Turner

East Austin Austin

Six Square | Austin's Black Cultural District
Written By Six Square | Austin's Black Cultural District

Six Square is the nexus of thriving Black arts and culture in Central East Austin. We re-animate cultural spaces, connect community, and honor the past, present, and future of Austin’s Black Cultural District.

Dorothy Turner was a pioneering civil rights activist in Austin, who dedicated her life to pushing for freedom, equality, and justice for all in the city that she loved. She was born in 1935 in Austin Texas. In the 26 years she worked for the City of Austin, she worked in a wide variety of positions. She was constantly reminded in those years that opportunities for African Americans and women were severely restricted, and this experience energized her lifelong efforts towards social justice. She wrote complaint letters, organized labor, and confronted supervisors in an effort to ensure better treatment. When she was employed at Brackenridge hospital, she filed two complaints with the EEO in regards to low stagnant wages and the inability of minority employees to rise in the organization. In 1977, she filed a landmark class-action lawsuit against the City of Austin for discriminatory hiring practices. In 1977, she also became the president of the Black Citizens Task Force. She would go on to be its longest-serving president. During her tenure, Turner fought successfully against racism and discrimination on all levels. Turner was a relentless advocate for East Austin and the black community. She was instrumental in the hiring of the city's first female assistant city manager and the city's first African American personnel director. Dorothy Turner spent her life fighting for the rights of her fellow Austonians. She has been called the Harriet Tubman of Austin, an apt comparison and one Turner would be proud to carry.

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Dorothy Turner

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