New docu-series looks at lives, legacies of East Austinites

A new docu-series is taking an in-depth look at the lives and legacies of Austinites on the city's eastside.

AUSTIN - A new docu-series is taking an in-depth look at the lives and legacies of Austinites on the city's eastside.
 
The first episode of Eastside Stories premiers Friday night at Allgo.  
 
"Eastside Stories is an idea that came about for me because I am an original East Austin resident," said filmmaker Cindy Elizabeth.  
 
Elizabeth said the community has drastically changed since her childhood. 
 
"The community that I grew up around is no longer there," Elizabeth said.   
 
She said as Austin grows, the higher cost of living has pushed long time residents out.
 
"I wanted to work on this project as a way to pay homage to the people who have been here and created the rich culture and history," Elizabeth said.  
 
The first person she profiled is longtime East Austinite Bettie Mann.
 
"She's had an important role in Austin's history with integration and desegregation," Elizabeth said.  
 
Mann was the first black teacher at Lee Elementary School. She was hired in 1968. 
 
"I taught there for 21 years," Mann said.  
 
Mann said when she was hired she was unsure how she'd be received. 
 
"I just knew all of our steps are ordered by the Lord," she said. 
 
She looked at her opportunity to teach as a way to improve race relations and what she found pleasantly surprised her. 
 
"Kids were kids and that was it," Mann said. "They loved me and I loved them." 
 
Since her retirement, she's kept many of her relationships made at Lee. Leaving a lasting impact, the elementary school named their kindergarten wing after her last year.
 
"I was brought as the photographer to take her portrait to place in the wing," Elizabeth said. "She's genuinely the sweetest person I've ever met. By telling these stories, for some it'll be witnessing their culture, for others it will be about learning the culture of East Austin that was before it became what it is today" 
 
Either way, she said she's doing her part to preserve East Austin's past.

© 2017 KVUE-TV


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