When Texas progressives gather together they often complain. And yet, at a recent Dallas meeting of the North Texas Friends of the People’s Weekly World, participants couldn’t help but note a number of positive developments in the state.
First, someone recalled the historic 6-3 vote of the U.S. Supreme Court overturning the notorious, anti-gay Texas sodomy law. This was a great victory. Even the reactionary editors of the Dallas daily paper began their commentary with the headline, “Good riddance!”
After that, there was almost no stopping the outpouring of good news. A schoolteacher cited the Texas Federation of Teachers’ success in turning back many of the right-wing assaults on public education in the recent legislative session. Republican legislators failed with proposals to broaden school voucher programs and license untrained teachers, among other things. The teachers held a formidable rally and lobby day in the state capital. A new concept, “virtual lobby day,” had prompted an estimated 20,000 hits per hour on legislators’ phones, fax machines, and e-mail boxes.
Throughout May and June, unions and other progressive organizations bombarded the State Capitol with rallies and lobbying efforts. The Texas State Employees Union mobilized thousands of their members and supporters to defend worker interests.
Democrats showed real backbone with their dramatic flight to Oklahoma to thwart Republican redistricting. The public relations battle was clearly won by the Democrats and state progressives, and it continues today with lawsuits and investigations of illegal activities carried out by state and federal agencies who pursued the runaway legislators. One participant in the Dallas meeting said of the right-wingers: “Their arrogance and disregard for individuals is going to bite them in the end!”
There’s more. Big demonstrations in Texas against the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq have given expression to a growing peace movement here. Peace organizations are not disbanding today, but are continuing to organize. The North Texas Coalition for a Just Peace found immediate partners from unions, civil rights organizations, and community groups when it picketed a Bush fundraiser in Dallas on July 18.
The Immigrant Workers Freedom Ride supporters in North Texas, who expect buses from Los Angeles to pass through Dallas Sept. 26, have already formed a wide and diverse network of supporting organizations. San Antonio, Austin, and Houston are organizing Freedom Ride activities, too.
The upsurge in Texans’ understanding and willingness to take action is also being reflected in other ways. The People’s Weekly World picked up a number of new subscriptions and supporters during June and July. Three of them came from the Dallas meeting. Another activist was inspired to write a check to top off the Texas Communist Party’s fund drive goal, and two new CPUSA members paid their first dues.
Last and best of the good news came in a report from the nearby Denton, Texas, chapter of the Young Communist League. We learned that five Texas youths were traveling to Cuba this summer. The report ended: “We set up a table during registration at the University of North Texas, and the YCL picked up ten new members yesterday!”
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