From Tennessee to Texas, They Want to Silence Us

10 Apr, 23

Dear Friends,

Here in Harris County, we fight every day to give diverse communities a seat at the decision table and a fighting shot at the American Dream. But Austin lawmakers are determined to tear down the progress we’ve made and erase many of our community’s hard-fought rights and freedoms. This is part of a broader national strategy we saw play out in Tennessee last week.

In case you missed it: two legislators, Representative Justin Jones and Representative Justin Pearson, participated in a protest against gun violence. As a result, they were stripped of their positions by colleagues in the Tennessee General Assembly. They were silenced for standing up for the safety of students after a shooter with an assault rifle took the lives of students and faculty last month at a school in Nashville. They were silenced because calling for gun control after another school shooting didn’t fit in the narrative spun by the gun lobby. They were silenced because they were young and Black and had the audacity to stand up to the status quo.

That’s happening across this country and especially here in Texas. Time after time, we’ve seen the State of Texas come after dissenting opinions and anything that doesn’t fit their worldview. Here in Harris County, they’ve taken over HISD — a purely political stunt — as not a single school is failing by the state’s own standards. Extremist lawmakers are banning books and changing school curriculums to write us out of history books. They are denying women and trans people control over their own bodies, health, and future. Election deniers in positions of power are coming after voting rights, passing laws that make it easier to subvert elections and harder for people of color, youth, and others to vote.

We won’t be silenced. We must take a stand against state leaders who have no respect for you — as voters, taxpayers, parents, and decision-makers. The stakes are too high to stay on the sidelines as public education and democracy in Texas hang in the balance.

In the third-most populous county in the United States and the most diverse county in the nation, it will take all of us working together to protect our rights, freedoms, and our seat at the table.


Rodney Ellis