Leal’s Tires

Originally located at the corner of East Cesar Chavez and Chicon Street, Leal’s Tires boasted bright yellow paint and beautiful murals with homages to Aztec culture. Leal’s was known for having affordable services and working with customers when they didn’t have money to pay in full. Leal’s eventually relocated to far East 7th Street after restaurant owners purchased their original location. Many voiced concern when the restaurant kept Leal’s murals as their own and opened as “Lou’s Bodega” but offered highly-priced meals instead of reasonably-priced items typically found in a true bodega. However, the establishment soon changed its name to Lou’s and acknowledges the legacy of Leal’s.

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Jumpolin is a pinata and party store that captured the hearts and minds of the East Austin community for over 20 years and was owned by the Lejarazu family. In late 2014, the Lejarazus faced harassment from their landlord which unfortunately escalated to Jumpolin’s demolition in February 2015. This story quickly received national attention and the Lejarazus were supported by a plethora of Austinites, especially from the underrepresented communities.

The Lejarazus are now focused on expanding their e-commerce business towards an art gallery featuring extensive projects made in paper mache.

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L. C. Anderson High School

L. C. Anderson High School first opened its doors in 1889 on the corner of San Marcos and East 11th Street and became Austin’s only African American high school. Although it moved locations multiple times, L.C. Anderson served black students until 1971, when it was shut down as part of desegregation efforts.


Victory Grill – Harold McMillan

Victory Grill was established in 1945 by entrepreneur Johnny Holmes as a gathering place for African-American soldiers returning from World War II, hence the name. It became a significant stop on the “Chitlin’ Circuit” for renowned blues musicians such as James Brown, Tina Turner and Billie Holiday.

To share an oral history of the Victory Grill, E4 Creative Mentors Jadzia Padilla, Jennifer Chavez, and Karina Mata interviewed Harold McMillan. McMillan is a local musician and founder/director of Diverse Arts Culture Works. He also runs Kenny Dorham’s Backyard, the outdoor event space immediately adjacent to Victory Grill.


Harlem Theater

Opening its doors October of 1935, The Harlem Theater of East Austin was an iconic cultural hub of the black community. The venue hosted local performances such as magic shows and talent shows, for which local black-owned businesses would donate prizes. Ultimately, the theater’s legacy ended in 1973—the same year it was reopened—when it was burned to the ground. While the Harlem Theater had a sad demise, the surviving community will never forget how much this theater impacted them, and created a place so many families called home.

Longtime Austinites, Sam Alexander and Pearl Cox, speak on the importance of the black-owned Harlem Theater to the youth of color in East Austin and the potential future of the Harlem Theater.