By Stacy M. Brown
NNPA Senior National
Democrats in the Texas Legislature fled the state ahead of expected votes on new voting laws.
The group flew to Washington, D.C., to shine a spotlight on the “GOP’s assault on voters in the Lone Star State” and around the country.
“The cohort of Democrats were aiming to transform themselves into the nation’s new symbols in the fight for voting rights, according to several people familiar with their plans,” the New York Times said.
“The goal is to apply pressure to Senate Democrats who so far have been unable to pass federal legislation to address the issue.”
With President Biden planning to deliver a major speech on voting rights on Tuesday in Philadelphia, the Times said the exodus from Texas could lead to dueling showdowns in Austin and Washington.
“We have rules that we will utilize as best we can. We will go through the process, and if we find a way to stop these bills, we will do that,” Texas State Rep. Toni Rose, who serves the Dallas area communities of Oak Cliff, Highland Hills, Pleasant Grove, Balch Springs, and Mesquite, asserted to the Black Press.
“I am incredibly pleased that grassroots organizations have mobilized. They have been successful at amplifying the message,” Rep. Rose stated.
Crystal Bates of the organization, Our Vote is Our Voice, told the Black Press that it would be “ineffective not to say or do anything.”
“We have to use whatever opportunities we have to make sure that our voice is heard,” added Bates, who planned to attend rallies in Austin to demand GOP lawmakers end their voter suppression tactics.
“I’m excited and proud of those who represent us. They have been bold and stood at all costs to stand for and with us for our rights,” she concluded.
Texas Republican Gov. Greg Abbott has again called for a special legislative session, which began on Thursday, July 8.
The call came just 24 hours before the start of the legislative session.
It included voting rights and Gov. Abbott’s controversial decision to defund the legislative body’s budget to punish the Texas Democrats who walked out and successfully killed Senate Bill 7, the controversial voter suppression bill.
By Tuesday, talk had even turned to Abbott having the Dem contingent arreste upon their return to the state.
The Texas Legislative Black Caucus and Texas NAACP held a joint news conference.
They explained how race has “infected the entire legislative process around the passage of SB1/HB3 and how the bill will disproportionately impact African-Americans and other minorities.”
“It’s Jim Crow 2.0,” State Sen. Royce West said.
Sen. West represents the 23rd senatorial district – Dallas County.
“What we are trying to accomplish frankly is trying to push a boulder up a hill,” Sen. West explained.
“The reason is that we don’t have the votes, but we are determined. We are facing what others have faced before, and in the long run, we have been able to preserve.”
Sen. West thanked all of the grassroots organizations who have lent their voice and strength to the campaign against the voter suppression laws in Texas.
“We are clearly in a cultural war like we have never seen before in our lifetime,” the senator declared. “We are facing what others have faced before, but we have the tools that our ancestors did not have; we have the right to vote, they did not.”
The senator continued:
“We have the ammunition to turn back the tide. We have to get out to vote and use the ammunition at our disposal, and we can win this battle and make sure that the dream of America is realized by all Americans regardless of the color of their skin.”
While the move is drawing the ire of GOP officials, organizations throughout Texas are applauding the maneuver.
“Texas House Democrats are making clear they will fight tooth and nail in defense of access to the ballot box and Texans’ civil rights by once again breaking quorum,” said Brianna Brown, deputy director fo teh Texas Organizing Project.
“Knowing this was not a decision made lightly, TOP applauds these representatives for boldly stepping up to protect the voices and livelihoods of Black and Latino Texans.
“Their courageous action today brings us one step closer to derailing the right-wing dog and pony show that Gov. Abbott and his allies are trying to run in this special session.
“With not a moment to lose, we as progressives must utilize every tool at our disposal to safeguard our fundamental right to have a say in our democracy. TOP and partner organizations from across the state will convene at the Texas Capitol on Tuesday to reaffirm that these rights are non-negotiable, and we will fiercely defend them.”
NDG’s David Wilfong contributed to this report.