The Millennium Youth Entertainment Complex sits at the corner of Hargrave and Rosewood in East Austin, but its story starts several blocks west on 12th and Chicon. And it starts with a tragedy.
It was near that corner, a couple days after Christmas in 1992, when 16-year-old Tamika Ross was killed. According to reports at the time, she and her friends were hanging out in a church parking lot. A car drove up and shots rang out, leaving Tamika dead and five others injured.
Her’s was just one of several murders that took place around this stretch of road that year.
“This was different for the community because it was a young female,” said Jenniffer Muhammed, who lived down the street from where Tamika was killed. “That really got the community’s attention, and people started meeting and saying, ‘How are we going to fix this? What can we do?’”
At the time, Muhammed, who went by Jenniffer Cole-Doyle then, was a teenager herself. But she started attending those meetings.
“I was very vocal,” she said. “I even challenged one elected official very boldly.”
Muhammed said that got the attention of older community activists, who sought her out to become part of a community movement.
Righting A Wrong
Muhammed and her allies formed the Central City Entertainment Center Advisory Board. They argued one way to reduce the risk of street violence for black and brown kids on the east side, was to get them off the streets.
She said existing city programs focused on sports and education, not always the kinds of things many teens wanted to do with their free time. Why not give them the chance to see a movie, go roller-skating or play video games?
She remembers thinking: “I don’t want to have to go all the way north. I don’t want to have to go all the way south to go see a movie, to