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Charles Urdy

Listen to curated clips of this oral history:
Clip 1: East Austin Revitalization
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Clip 2: Electing Minorities
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Clip 3: Integration And The Army
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Clip 4: Segregation In The City
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Clip 5: The Impact Of MLK Jr.
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Listen to this full-length oral history while you read the unedited transcript:
First Interview:
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Unedited Transcript

Download Teacher Questions for this oral history in .pdf format

Biographical Notes
Charles E. Urdy was born in Georgetown, Texas in 1933, one of thirteen children. He spent the first eleven years of his life in Jonah, where his family did sharecropping. Following World War II his family moved to Austin, where he attended L.C. Anderson High School. He went on to earn a Bachelor of Science degree in chemistry from Huston-Tillotson College in Austin, where he was active in early efforts for racial equality and integration. After graduating, he served in the U.S. Army Chemical Corps, and was stationed at Fort McClellan, Alabama. He went on to graduate school at the University of Texas, where he continued his activism in the Civil Rights Movement, and earned a Ph.D. in Physical Analytical Chemistry in 1962. He has taught at Prairie View A&M College, where he helped lead the Waller County Civic League, one of the early civil rights activist groups in Waller County. He has also held professorships at North Carolina College at Durham, and Huston-Tillotson College. From 1981 until 1994, Dr. Urdy held the Place 6 seat on the Austin City Council, an unprecedented five terms. Since retiring from the Council and Huston-Tillotson College, Dr. Urdy has worked at the Lower Colorado River Authority, where he serves as Manager of the Environmental Science and Technology Division. He has also continued his community leadership role as Chairman of the Austin Revitalization Authority, a non-profit organization funded by the City of Austin to revitalize East Austin.      

Abstract February 23, 2004
Dr. Urdy begins by describing his early experience in community activism as a poll tax collector in East Austin. He gives an overview of the development of civil rights activism in Austin and the United States, tracing the details of his own involvement, including detailed accounts from his five terms on the Austin City Council, as well as his leadership role as Chairman of the Austin Revitalization Authority.

Abstract March 9, 2004
Dr. Urdy describes the early years of his life as a member of a large family of sharecroppers in Jonah, Texas, and what it was like to move from that rural area into the metropolitan area of Austin in 1945. He tells of his high school days and his memories of community life in East Austin, where he lived with his brother. He describes the development of his political consciousness as a college student at Sam Houston College and Huston-Tillotson College, where he participated in early efforts for racial equality and integration in Austin. He served in the Army just a few years after Jim Crow in the armed forces was outlawed by President Truman’s executive order, and recounts his experiences of integration and segregation both in the Army, and in Alabama, where he was posted. In 1957, Dr. Urdy returned to Austin, where he attended graduate school in chemistry at the University of Texas and continued his activism in the Civil Rights Movement. He recalls student activist efforts at the University of Texas during that time, and how those activities began to shape his long-term dedication to community involvement and activism.

 


Disclaimer:
“Oral Narrative as History.” Students received class credit for this work, and were under the supervision of Dr. Martha Norkunas, director of “The Project in Interpreting the Texas Past.”

Every effort has been made to transcribe the audio recordings exactly. On occasion a word, or phrase, was difficult to hear and this is indicated by a question mark in brackets.


Charles Urdy

Interviewee:
Charles Urdy

Interviewer:
Heather Teague

Date of Interview:
February 23, March 9, 2004

Place:
Lower Colorado River Authority, City Council Room, Lake Austin Blvd., Austin, Texas

Recording Format:
Sony Mini Disc MZ-R50 with stereo microphones; 80-minute minidiscs

Transcriber: 
Heather Teague