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Houston Bound & History in they Key of Life

Houston Bound:
Culture and Color in a Jim Crow City
Reception | Q&A | Book Sale & Signing

Houston Bound

History in the Key of Life:
Listening to Houston’s Polycultural Pasts
Reception | Talk | Q&A

Key of Life

Houston Bound: Culture and Color in a Jim Crow City

Houston has gone from being a key Jim Crow city to becoming one of the most diverse urban areas in the world. Tyina Steptoe’s work in archives, her oral histories, and her long engagement with Houston’s musical scenes demonstrates how, despite Jim Crow attempts to fix racial categories through laws, converging migrations—particularly those of Mexicans and Creoles—complicated ideas of blackness and whiteness. Houston Bound traces the polycultural origins of Texas’s global city.


History in the Key of Life: Listening to Houston’s Polycultural Pasts

Dr. Tyina Steptoe spent years listening to Houston’s music, from Clifton Chenier to Selena to Beyoncé. As a scholar, she carefully arranged for oral histories with French-speaking grandmothers who left Louisiana for Houston in the 1920s, and Mexican American men who learned to play blues, soul, Tejano, and rock ’n’ roll in Houston neighborhoods. In this talk – based partly on the work for her book Houston Bound: Culture and Color in a Jim Crow City – Dr. Steptoe shares her notes on what she learned from listening to our pasts.


Dr. Tyina SteptoeTyina Steptoe is an associate professor in the Department of History at the University of Arizona in Tucson. She earned a PhD from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She completed her undergraduate work at the University of Texas at Austin, where she received a BS in Radio-Television-Film and a BA in History.

Steptoe’s work focuses on race, gender, and popular culture in the United States. Her book, Houston Bound: Culture and Color in a Jim Crow City (2016), won the Kenneth Jackson Award for Best Book (North American) from the Urban History Association, the W. Turrentine Jackson Book Prize from the Western History Association, and the Julia Ideson Award from the Friends of the Texas Room at the Houston Metropolitan Research Center. Her writing has also been published in the American Quarterly, Journal of African American History, Journal of the West, Oxford American, and the Houston Chronicle.