Our Fight is Just Beginning
Back in May, Deer Park Representative and House Elections Committee chair Briscoe Cain was asked if he could name any examples of voter fraud in the 2020 elections. To no one’s surprise, he failed to name a single one.
We knew then and we know now — the voter suppression agenda advanced this year in the Texas legislature through bills like Senate Bill 1 was designed not to solve a problem for Texans, but to solve a problem for Texas Republicans — the growing voting power of people of color in our state.
We also know our history. That same month, union members gathered at the former site of the Weingarten’s whites-only lunch counter in Third Ward to call out these bills for what they are — a straightforward effort to make it harder for people to vote and a resurrection of the legacy of Jim Crow.
We are lying to ourselves if we pretend that that legacy is a thing of the past. Poll taxes, literacy tests, and so-called right to work laws were designed to silence the voices of our black and brown brothers and sisters and protect the institutions of white supremacy that oppress all workers. And despite all the progress we’ve made and all the battles we’ve fought, that legacy is alive and well today.
61 years ago, a group of student activists from nearby TSU, including the late labor leader John Bland, staged a sit-in at Weingarten’s. They didn’t know that they’d ultimately be successful, seeing their demands met and sparking a wave of integration across Houston. Marching to that lunch counter, they only knew that the fight for full civil rights would not be won easily. They knew that progress requires sacrifice.
Today, we remember the sacrifices of those who came before us, and prepare ourselves for the fight ahead.
President, Texas Gulf Coast Area Labor Federation