Texas Relays ‘Black Alumni Weekend’ Details Announced

After a false start last year, plans are in place for the 83rd edition of the Clyde Littlefield Texas Relays to be a more positive, eventful weekend than ever before.

This year, the best of the fun and competition takes place just before Easter Sunday, April 2-3.

The University, the City of Austin, the Texas Exes, and the community have teamed together to plan a bundle of appealing activities for guests in town, and the details of what’s being called “Black Alumni Weekend” have just been announced.

A welcome reception will be held at the Alumni Center from 6-8 p.m. Fri., April 2, with UT president Bill Powers in attendance.

The races and field events will be held Wed., March 31 through Sat., April 3.

And in addition to all those offerings is the downtown Urban Music Festival, with tickets selling for a bargain $15. Ticket packages to all three events are being offered by the Black Ex-Students of Texas.

The Relays draws to Austin up to 50,000 visitors, many of them African American. Last Relays weekend was marred by Highland Mall’s shutting its doors, upsetting some who considered the move unwelcoming.

This year, Austin City Council member Sheryl Cole, BBA ’86, JD ’91, says she has talked to mall managers and feels confident the facility will not close.

After last year’s controversy, Austin’s City Council resolved to gather a team to plan for crowds, traffic, and events. Cole chaired the committee, which has met monthly for the past year.

“I have been overwhelmed by the amount of community support and work that have gone in to trying to make this a successful event this year,” she says.

“Our entire community feels strongly about Austin’s reputation as a progressive, first-class city,” Cole adds. “The amount of time and resources and passion and commitment we put to that endeavor, together with The University of Texas, is vital to not only our reputation, but also to our tourism, our economic development, our growth.”

Some officials sensed that not enough entertainment was being offered in Austin during Relays weekend, leaving thousands to hang out at places like malls. Larry Jackson, ’71, Life Member, helped found a nonprofit organization, the Central Texas Black Cultural and Health Festival, to organize more events.

On the schedule this year are a parade, step show, gospel brunch, domino tournament, and appearances by notables like Thomas Freeman, coach of the acclaimed Texas Southern University debate team.

“Our main goal in doing all of this is to promote education among the youth,” Jackson says.

For its part, the Athletic Department has its staff and coaches hard at work preparing for another “world-class” track meet bringing high school, college, and professional athletes together, Athletic director DeLoss Dodds said in a statement.

“The competition on the track,” he said, “will be fierce and exciting.”

Regarding the social issues beyond the meet, Dodds said Athletics has been working closely with Cole and the City of Austin for the past year.

“We are proud of the positive impact the Texas Relays has on our community,” he said. “We will once again welcome our out-of-town guests to one of our favorite weekends of the year. This is one of the most unique and diverse events in America in terms of athletic competition, education and outreach, social interaction, and music and entertainment.”



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