Deeds Not Words is a non-profit organization that seeks to empower and activate the voices of young women in public and political discourse. Wendy Davis, the founding leader of Deeds Not Words, a former senator, and a gubernatorial candidate, talks about the mission of the organization and why they are creating change-makers that are very much involved at the local and state policy-making level. It is Wendy’s passion to help women to move forward by gaining the confidence and skills to use their voice. She shares her intention of running for Congress to represent the people of Texas and the people of America who are relying on Congress to do a good job and be a voice for them.
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Deeds Not Words: Empowering Women To Use Their Voice with Wendy Davis
I’ve got to a good friend, a great person and a rock star in the world out there, Wendy Davis. Welcome to the show.
It’s been a while. I know when we talked about doing this, I was disappointed in myself because I hadn’t talked to you much in the last couple of years. When we get busy with life and responsibility and all that, I’m sure you understand how it goes.
I was going to say that street goes both directions. I know we all feel that way.
We’re here and I’m excited. I’m sure there are people who want to hear from you and what you’ve been up to.
A few of years ago, I started a non-profit, which is born out of my passion for helping to move women forward, whether that means helping them to gain the skills they need to one day be our elected leaders or whether it simply means helping them to gain the confidence and skills to use their voice in whatever area they wind up in their future. The name of the organization is Deeds Not Words. What we like to say is that we are creating change makers who will be future leaders. The changemaker part of it centers around the legislative advocacy training that we do. Our young women at nineteen high school and college campuses around the state get integrally involved in what’s happening at the local policy-making level and at the state policy-making level.
Some of the interesting things that have happened locally, for example, starting with Austin, then San Antonio, the city of Dallas, all have paid sick leave ordinances for their cities, which require that employers have to provide paid sick leave to their employees. It’s a shame that cities have to do that because the state and the federal level have not taken the responsibility to do what they ought to do in that regard, but our young women have played a role in that and have testified at city council meetings and have been an important part of building the story behind why that happens. In the last legislative session in 2017, our girls were responsible for helping to pass seven bills into laws. One of them that they came up with from scratch. It was a bill to put sex trafficking curriculum into our high schools so that young women and young men are taught about the dangers of how they might be subject to being fished for trafficking.
A lot of people when they think about trafficking, they think about people being brought here from other countries that a huge segment of our youth is being caught up in that. This curriculum was a prevention curriculum. These amazing young women got it from the idea of the passage in one session. This session we are working on many more bills and we worked on that first session because we’ve gotten bigger and our chapters have gotten stronger and bigger. This session, our girls are on track to pass twelve bills into law. One of them passed unanimously out of the house. It was a bill by Victoria Neave to reform the way that we are handling rape kits.
I didn’t know it was your ladies, but I saw that coming out of the house.
I don’t want to take anything away from the hard work that Representative Neave has done on that. She organized a task force over the interim to invite people from criminal justice, from survivor organizations, social services and forensic science. Every aspect of what touches a person’s life if they’ve been victimized by sexual assault. She brought all these thoughts and perspectives together in a task force. She included me and some of our Deeds Not Words girls who are a part of this. We started poking around that, “Why is this still a problem and what solutions do we need to bring forward?” Our girls have been a big part of testifying in committee hearings and the Senate and the house to help make it a success. The other big bill that they worked on this session is one that Senator Watson from Austin filed. We call it and he adopted the name of it as well, the State Title IX Bill.
I’m sure you know and some of your audience probably are aware as well that Betsy DeVos is the Secretary of Education under President Trump. Betsy DeVos has been working proactively to undo protections for people who are victims of sexual assaults on our college campuses. Tipping the balance in favor of assailants. It slapped our young women and men who are victimized without the reinforced that they need. Senator Watson working with our girls filed a bill to address what their day-to-day lived experiences are on college campuses in the state and to create reform and support so that they will be safer. All of us would agree that when our kids go to school and we send them away to be on their own for the first time, the worst thing we can possibly imagine for them is that their desire and dream to learn, to thrive, to be trained for whatever it is they’re hoping to be when they get older is not interrupted by the trauma of sexual assault. I’m proud of them.
We have a lot of other bills. Some center around mental health, some center around maternal mortality and some around menstrual equity. Our girls are amazing. I wish you could see them testify in committee because they are more poised and more confident than I ever dreamed of being when I was that age. Because they’re bringing their lived experiences and their fresh perspective to a legislative decision making, they’re changing the way. Even these old white, crusty male Republican lawmakers are thinking about things. I’m proud of that work.
In the meantime, they’re learning a lot of great skills about how the government works, how to engage in that process and how to figure out, “Where’s the room? How do I find out what’s going on in that room and how do I sign up to speak in that room? How do I speak effectively in that room?” Those kinds of skills are important no matter what they decide to do, whether they go into the public or the private sector. The other thing that we’ve done as part of our work at Deeds Not Words, we partnered with an organization called Jolt Initiative. We launched a program called Movement Mujeres, which is aimed specifically at young women of color.
We have a group of 25 fellows that will go through a two-year deep dive leadership training and then we’ll bring on another group of 25 after that. We’ve been for funded for four years. The young women who are in our first fellow of the class are all college graduates. They’re all already working in amazing ways in the world, but they’re looking for that next level of leadership training. Our goal is at the end of these two years, that they’re going to be positioned to be leaders of philanthropic, social justice and political movements.
What’s crazy about that is I knew you had started this and I knew what you’re working on but I didn’t realize how broad and seemingly effective these ladies have been. When you said that, “They’ve done a great job testifying.” I was sitting here thinking, “Better than me.” At that age and what they’re doing is probably effective because they’re old enough and smart enough and passionate about what they’re working on. They haven’t been around so long where they’re biased or that their jaded or beat up by life or have negative experiences with the people that are testifying to. I’m speaking from personal experience. I’ve testified in committee hearings a lot more than I ever wished to have had to. Sometimes, in certain organizations that ended up being my role.
You play in adversarial circumstances.You may be the only voice, but sometimes you got to be that voice. Click To Tweet
That’s the thing. I was going to be the slaughtering ram or however it goes. It was always difficult for me particularly being trained as a lawyer because my role was different in testifying. I always took it seriously in the standpoint of these governmental positions and these legislators deserved respect because of their position. I tried to give that and bend over backward to give that. Even when some cheap shots I thought were taken when I knew that the hearing was probably stacked against me walking in. Maybe next time if I get tasked with that, I’ll find some passionate young people who had targeted and shots at. That’s life and I get it.
It’s a task to do that. I feel like every time someone does, it sets an example for the rest of us that we can do it too. Sometimes the status quo is the status quo because we’re hesitant to do that. We’re hesitant to go into an arena where we know the deck is stacked against us and that our one voice is probably not going to reshuffle it in a way that’s going to bring about what we hope to achieve. However, while that may be the case one by one, collectively if we all decide to own our power, we are a force that will ultimately shift the dynamic and the way that we want to see it. We will disrupt the status quo. That’s what our job and our responsibility are to our own generations and to the generations who will follow us.
That’s bigger at least for me than political leanings or beliefs. That’s part of the oath that you took and I’ve taken as lawyers because ultimately that’s how we’re educated and trained in this to stand up for what we see or believe to be right. That’s where a lot of social change in our country I’ve seen through study or experience has taken place, and it’s agonizingly slow at times. I tell clients, “Your business and your world move at the normal pace of life, but when you’re dealing with me and we’re dealing with legal issues, be prepared. It moves really slow and deliberate.” I understand why, but it’s hard to take when it takes certain things. Most people know they need to change. It takes generations sometimes to do that.
One of the things about what you do, I may have said this to you before. I always think of people who decide to go into the plaintiff side of work as having a similar makeup and moral compass as some of us who decide to be in the political foray on behalf of the people that we represent. I tend to think because I view things through the prism of a Democrat. That Democrat comes into public policy work because they believe that people are worth fighting for. That’s what a plaintiff of a lawyer’s heart had and moral compass is centered around as well. Maybe a lot of people don’t understand that, about the people that are drawn to the work that you do. It is centered around this deep belief that justice is worth fighting for. That righting wrongs, particularly when it’s the big guy against the little guy, it’s worth getting in the ring for. It’s almost as though you can’t resist getting in the ring as hard as it is and as much as stress and turmoil as you go through doing it. Thanks for what you do. I know your clients feel well-served.
I appreciate that. I’ve got a good friend and we used to joke about it. When I say a joke, we’re being serious but would say it jokingly is oftentimes in our practice we have to suspend reality. Suspend the challenges that we immediately face. A lot of times it’s like you’re answering the question, “How do you eat an elephant?” “It’s one spoonful at a time.” You tried it down. Before we move on, I want to commend your young ladies and if you’ll please send a message to them for me, particularly for the work on sex trafficking. When I hear these stories, it terrifies me and it hits home. Mallory will be sixteen this summer. These are issues that I talk about with her.
On top of it, she’s fairly diminutive. She’s 5’1”, probably 110 pounds and fairly sheltered. At least a lot more than me at that age I’ll say, which is good, that’s my daughter. It scares me. You mentioned that I read in my local paper here in Beaumont of three people got indicted for attempted sex trafficking of a twelve-year-old. This is not in Indonesia or South America. This is in Beaumont, Houston, Dallas, Austin. It’s insidious, sophisticated and quietly done. It’s something that we could consistently go to have to fight it because it’s insidious. I remember when you were in the Senate and Leticia Van De Putte in the Senate, you are working in following a bill to try and crack down on some internet sites that were offering prostitution. It was during that process that some politicians opened my eyes to some issues as opposed to another way around. I didn’t realize that those sites were encouraging and ultimately whether directly or indirectly funding the sex trafficking.
Leticia was a huge champion. That was one of the signature issues that she did a lot of work around when she was in the Senate. We all owe her a great debt.
I need to reach out to her as well because she’s an old friend and I think a lot of us as well. More people following the show know who you are than me. As a way of background, I’ll introduce you a little more and tell people that Wendy can be described as a lady of many hats. She’s a licensed attorney. She’s one of the smart girls. She went to Harvard I believe for law school.
By way of Tarrant County Community College.
We all have a path. She’s been a city councilwoman and been a Texas State Senator and our gubernatorial candidate a few years ago and runs an astounding non-profit. She’s an accomplished young lady outside. For everybody out there, the reason I wanted to have Wendy on is she’s someone that I was always immediately drawn to. I say that because despite my youth and good looks, I’ve met and dealt with probably thousands of politicians at all levels. City Council, Senate, House on the State level, Federal level, a couple of Presidents and few, if any was I immediately drawn to like I have been to you when I first met you. That’s a way for me to brag on you. You’re one of the most genuine public people I know. I’ve always admired your hard work because you’ve always been willing to face a challenge for something you believed is right. Whether you win or lose, you’re willing to face it.
Thank you. I take that as a great compliment from you. When you meet someone that you know has a true north, that true north is real when it comes to fighting for justice and all of the things that our country was founded on. The idea that we should have equal opportunity. There are those of us who go through our lives, we get knocked down along the way. We are the little guy ourselves. If we manage the opportunity to come through that, then it feels to me that you have something that you need to pay forward. It rests inside you in this deep place that we all have an obligation to make sure that everyone has an opportunity to live their best lives. When we see the kinds of injustices around us that we see, it speaks to something. I wish sometimes it weren’t such a calling because I could be doing something that would be a much more financially beneficial for me than the work that I’m doing. I know I wouldn’t be happy. I’m proud of it and I’m proud that you feel that way about me as a person because I’ve shared the same feelings for you.
I do and I always will. The reason I do it is because it does not only bring criticism and it brings ugliness and meanness. Unfortunately, I haven’t seen that in the political arena getting any better. I know you’ve dealt with and experienced it. I can remember in 2012 when you were running for re-election on your senate seat and in 2014 when you’re running for governor and following the filibuster. People say mean things. Following this last presidential campaign and subsequent election administration, it seems the tone becomes more acceptable. It’s easy to some degree because I removed myself from it. I haven’t watched television news coverage in over two years, not once, which is probably not good because I probably need to know a little bit what’s going on. I do most of that by reading, but it’s hard for me to watch and frankly on all sides. I don’t know if you experienced any of that yourself.
All of us get to feeling that way sometimes that we need to unplug and that’s healthy. That’s an important kind of self-care because the day to day flog, particularly in the way we receive our information right now which highly filtered and directed at a particular audience perspective, it’s not healthy. It’s not like back in the day when I was growing up and probably when you were growing up where we had our three main stations: ABC, NBC, CBS and then we had PBS. They delivered content that was the facts. We all received the same information and we filtered it through our own perspectives and understandings, but we were all receiving the same information. Now, it’s highly filtered and directed to appease a certain perspective and it’s the same because we lose out on both sides in that regard. It’s a big part of the problem with why we can’t get back together and work more cooperatively and collaboratively at every political level. It’s a poison and it doesn’t just poison people who are in elected office, it poisons the perspective of those who have the privilege of voting for the people who serve us.
The best that we can do, and Beto spoke to this in his campaign, it was authentic, sincere and resonated. We each have to do our best to play the part of demonstrating how it should be done. Demonstrating a true commitment to working with everyone and trying to solve the problems of this country and not getting too embedded, whether a Democrat wins that battle or a Republican wins one or whether the American public wins it. I like that he modeled that. I admire it. We see a lot of that on the Democratic side and the primary. I hope we can go into the general election for 2020 with our candidate, whoever that’s going to be, our nominee, modeling how we unify again. That’s going to be appealing to people in this country as a dramatic juxtaposition to a President who wakes up every single day, gets on his Twitter account and seeks to divide us. We can’t keep doing that.
You mentioned Beto for his campaign for Senate, for those of you who may not be in Texas, he ran against Ted Cruz. I don’t personally know Ted Cruz, but I’ll say he’s not been one of my favorite people. No love lost there. I didn’t get engaged with him or his campaign. I followed it from afar. I made no political campaign donations and I’m sad.
You get to sign in that regard.Every voter should pat themselves on the back that they played a role in making things happen. Click To Tweet
I sign at nothing, but I was engaged to watch him and see how he did particularly because of my distaste for Cruz. I’m disappointed he didn’t win it but I sure like the way he ran it. Hopefully, that translates for him and for others going forward because that’s how it starts. You mentioned that like testifying at a committee hearing. You may be the only voice, but sometimes you’ve got to be that voice. That being said, it seems like we have a big stable of people in the democratic side of primary in 2020. What do you think? Is it like Uncle Joe got in?
I think it’s going to be a wonderful test of great ideas. Whoever becomes our nominee is going to benefit from some of the thinking of the other candidates who are in the Democratic primary. I’m excited to see two Texans there, not just Beto O’Rourke but Julian Castro, who I have tremendous respect and admiration for. It’s going to be interesting to see. I hope that we can finally break through in Texas this time. We came close with Beto winning our first statewide raised since 1994 for Democrats and we might be able to crack through it this time. I’m personally thinking and I’m close to making a decision to run for Congress, which I never thought I would do. I had considered and been talking to some people about that US Senate race, but I felt like we were poised to have a good candidate there.
I’m excited to see MJ Hegar jumped in. Joaquin Castro, I know taking a serious look at that, we should probably hear from him. There’s a dynamic city councilwoman in Houston, Amanda Edwards, who’s talking about jumping in. We’re going to be well-represented there. I live now in Congressional District 21, which was represented by Lamar Smith for many years. Had always been considered a deep red district. In 2018, Joseph Kopser, the Democratic nominee came within two and a half points in the district. That’s how I got 49.92% in the district. It is represented by a person named Chip Roy, who is a Ted Cruz acolyte and previous operative for Ted Cruz. His voting record is deplorable. I want to get in there and get this guy out of office. He’s not representing the people of Texas and the people of America who are relying on Congress to do a good job for them. I’m taking a serious look at it. I’ll make my decision for sure.
A serious look. That’s politics deeper. I’m going to give you more than 50/50 going to run for it or what do you think?
I’m more than 50/50 going to run for it.
I won’t push any harder than that.
It backs what you said to and this is a challenge. When you’ve been through some tough races as I have been, you know what’s coming at you. My 2014 gubernatorial race was about as brutal as a political race can be in terms of what I took on personally.
I’m aware of that.
It knocks you back so hard on your heels that it puts you in a place of feeling like, “I don’t know if I can personally go through that again.” When I think about that, what I go back to is, “I cannot let the bastards win. I can’t let them knock the wind out of me so hard that I demonstrate that’s a successful strategy to getting people like me out of the political conversation.” It’s more of a motivator than a detraction for me at this point to get back in, let those blows land again and demonstrate particularly for young women that when we lose, we can get right back up and we can keep fighting because we know what we are fighting for matters.
That’s a great example, particularly for your young woman in the Deeds Not Words organization. We all need to see that. We all have people we look up to. Not that they’re perfect. You’re not perfect. I’m not perfect. That’s not about being perfect. It’s about being in the fight for what you believe. Fourteen was interesting. I don’t know if I’ve ever told you this story, but I’m going to tell you mine. This is locally my favorite Wendy Davis 2014 story.
There’s no telling what you’re about to say.
I could make everybody nervous when I’m going to tell a story. We had a fundraising event here in town. Right after that event, we moved from the house within a few weeks. I already bought the other house. A few years later, I still think I still own the other house a mile apart. We moved to a new neighborhood. I’ve been known to support a lot of Democrats but not exclusively. I’ve got Republican friends and friends that are not who are truly my friends, but I’ve got people I’ve supported. They’re Republicans as well. In all disclosure and honesty, I tend to support more Democrats than Republicans.
I was excited for you to be running. I was like, “I’ve got a friend running, this is awesome. I hope she does well.” At the new house, I had the biggest possible yard sign available because I live on a busy corner in town. It’s a neighborhood but still a lot of traffic to that whole west side of town. I had big signs up and I may or may not have been putting things on social media. Fast forward, I’ve got this little party bus and some friends asked if they could use it. It was some people that I know but not really well but they’re a long time, multigenerational Beaumont family and been around and they’re good people. I said, “Sure, you all can use it.”
They were using it to transport groomsmen for their daughter’s wedding. My best friend and I were on my back porch drinking beer and he reminded me, “We need to take the bus over to Bill’s house.” We drove it over there. I was talking to him and there was another couple there and they were from Fort Worth I believe, probably your Senate district was close nearby. I was explaining to the people we’re to bring it back to because I moved and I said, “Here’s where we live. It’s the Parker’s old house.” They said, “Yes.” I said “You’ll see a giant Wendy Davis sign in the yard. You’ll know you’re there.”
The lady of the couple from Fort Worth gave me a reaction that I would call a country club dismissive reaction. Disgusted that I would have a Wendy David sign in my yard. That’s not that big of a deal. If that’s the worst that somebody says or does, who cares? I was aided with seven or eight beers and here we go. I proceeded to curse everybody out who would listen to me at that point in support I said, “You can disagree with people, but you’re not going to be disrespectful of me. I’m over here doing a favor for your friends. That’s my friend.” I might have told them they can go bleep themselves. I look back on it. It was funny but that’s how I get. I’m protective of friends and family and I don’t like cheap shots. It’s a snobby cheap shot. It pisses me off. Not all that funny, but I don’t think I’d ever told you about that.
No, that’s the first I’ve heard that.Be part of the solution, not part of the problem. Click To Tweet
We were talking about 20/20. Part of me has a little concern that there are many people on the Democratic side that they beat out of each other.
I hope they don’t, so far they’re not but we’ll see.
Have you picked your horse in that race?
I have not. I have a number of candidates that I’m excited about. We’ll see how the season progresses, how they do on the debate stage, how they put together their ideas and their plans and the law that will make our decisions. It’s going to be an interesting convention for sure.
It might be fun to sit and watch and see what happens. Congressional District 21, is that West Austin? Generally, where is that?
It’s got a chunk of Austin in it. I live in the Clarksville neighborhood that’s West of the Downtown core. It’s got that neighborhood part of Downtown and then it goes into Hays County, Comal County, Kerr County, and it takes some the part of Bexar County as well. More rural areas of the district have historically been voting Republican. Travis County portion, the Hays County portion are both voting majorities of Democrats. The Bexar County piece of it is right on edge and could go either way, honestly depending on how well a candidate works in that district and is able to communicate to the values of the voters there.
I can tell everybody this. I know you’ll work, that’s one thing. Why I’ve always been drawn to you too is we both come from a background in where we had no choice. For anything we wanted, we had to work for it. We’re both the first people in our families to go to college. I guess we decided that wasn’t enough. We’d go on to law school. It was fortunate that I went to school basically on scholarships. Otherwise, it probably wouldn’t go to happen. Thanks to everybody out there who chipped in.
That’s worth saying for sure. For people like us and many people across this country who owe their place in life to the fact that generations ahead of them were willing to invest in making that happen. Through the taxes that they paid, through commitments to fund higher education for people like us. I feel a real obligation for the generations that come behind us to do that too. It’s not that way anymore. We become much more about, “I’ve got mine, leave it alone. This is my pie,” and I think we owe an obligation.
I’ll say this, the first significant contribution I made was to my alma mater. I called the foundation, they said, “You’re not on our radar. We don’t call people 31.” I said, “I know that but this is important to me because there are people that without them, I wouldn’t be here.” I wanted to ask you a little bit about the session and ask it from afar. I spent a lot of my life during 2011, 2013, especially in 2015 at the capitol, testify and lobby and whatnot. I’ve backed away because it’ll suck your soul. I guess from afar, it seems there’s some bipartisan perhaps going on in the house. It doesn’t seem like that in the Senate. I wanted to get your $0.50 impression of what’s happening out there.
There are some good and some bad as is always the case. The good thing that’s happening is that as a consequence of the 2018 election, I believe that it’s a consequence of this. Twelve house seats were flipped red to blue. Two Senate seats were flipped red to blue. Particularly for the house where we’re only nine seats away from gaining a majority. It was a real wake up call to that chamber that they better get their house in order when it comes to public education because voters are sick of it. They know that Republican leadership has failed them in that regard. Every voter should pat themselves on the back that they played a role in making this happen. This session, the house has taken up the whole finance in a real way. Not a window dressing way, but a real commitment to at least in some aspects restoring what was once a state-level commitment to funding public schools.
They’ve come up with a great plan that not only adds more money but also helps to equitize the system a bit more and addresses some of that recapture where if you live in a city like I live in Austin and you’re paying a lot of your property taxes that are not going to your own school district, it helps to even that out. The plan that the House came up with, the Senate’s plan coming out of the gate was not nearly as strong. They’ve seen the positive reaction to what the House came up with and they’re working on trying to find consensus. I feel good that we’re going to come out of the session with the best public school funding bill that we’ve seen in a long time.
A lot of people don’t know this about me, Jason, you probably do. My first filibuster in 2011 was to stop $5.5 billion in cuts to our schools. This is the first time since that 2011 session that the legislature finally got serious about undoing that damage. The bad news is that the session has resulted in an aggressive approach to taking away local control. Those paid sick leave bills that I talked about. There’s an aggressive effort in the legislature, Republican-led to strip city’s ability to pass things like that away and to overturn those paid sick leave ordinances at these three major cities in our states have passed. You often hear that Republicans believe in local control. My observation in my time and experience from the Texas legislature was that was not true. This is an instance of that.
The other thing that they’re doing that’s dramatically damaging for cities is taking away a city’s ability to set its own tax rate. There is already an 8% cap where a city can’t have a rate increase over 8% without asking for vote or approval. That’s going to be pushed down to 2% to 2.5% under the proposals that are underway. I’m not saying this as hyperbole, they’re going to be looking at laying off firefighters and police officers. If you think your streets are bad or your parks aren’t getting motive enough, wait. It’s maddening because the reason that our property taxes are high in Texas primarily is due to the fact that over the last several years, the state has less taking this responsibility of funding our public schools and we have been having to do it through our property taxes instead.
In 2015, the legislature gave this huge tax refund and changed the tax structure for big companies. Meanwhile, instead of putting that money into public schools, our property taxes were going up because we had to pick up the difference and now they want to blame cities for the fact that they caused a problem and they want to look they’re the solution. They’re the ones who did it. Finally, in this legislative session, there is an all-out assault on women’s reproductive rights. Every time I think it’s gotten as bad as it can possibly be, it gets even worse. Those are the bad news side, but I am excited about some of the bipartisanship. Speaker Bonnen has come in and tried to emulate what Speaker Laney had done, our last Democratic speaker in the Texas House, where he appointed a large number back then of Republicans as committee chairs. Speaker Bonnen has done that with Democrats. Moving them into positions of leadership, not window dressing and demonstrating that he’s going to try to be part of the solution, not part of the problem.
I would agree at least my view from the cheap seats, Bonnen has done a good job with that. I do remember in the 2011 filibuster. I was there. Unfortunately, my lasting memory of 2011 was a special session wherein there was some anti-consumer legislation that passed. I remember it distinctly because I and dear of mine had fought it hard. We took that one on the chin pretty hard at the end. That’s how it goes sometimes. We went on to fight another fight, but I do remember that. That’s in reference if there is a first, there was a second filibuster. I remember that. I believe it was June 25th, 2013. It’s the day that will live in infamy. I thought there might be a movie being made based on that filibuster.
It’s written. Sandra Bullock is attached as they say in Hollywood to play me.
You know you’re a big time when Sandra Bullock is playing you in a movie.
I try not to put too much thinking around that because there are many reasons why that wouldn’t come to be. Maybe it will, maybe it won’t. Even the mere fact that they’re talking about doing it, to me per se, it’s a compliment to what we collectively did in Texas that day and how it demonstrates what can happen when we come together and we fight for something that we believe in.
As we close, there’s something I wanted to read for everyone and I wanted to read this for a couple of reasons. Number one, we started talking about I immediately felt I made a connection with you. I met you in 2010 or 2011. You meet a lot of people. You were a State Senator. I got to know you more during that next campaign. I’ve provided varying degrees of support to people running for office before. In that campaign, I hadn’t done much for you. I’ve gotten thank yous from people. I keep them in my office. There are two Thank You letter that I have from you from that campaign because they touched me. It’s not typically what I’ve have received from others. The goal of the podcast is for people to get to know the guests that we have because you may not need to know everybody who may be reading personally, but this gives a good reflection of you, so I’m going to read it for everybody if you don’t mind.
This is from November 5th, 2012, which I believe November 6th would have been election day. It says, “Dear Jason, one of the takeaways that I will have from this election is my new friendship with you. Both of us operate from a gut instinct about people. Once we believe someone, we are with them through thick and thin. I’m happy that we made this connection as part of the campaign. I only hope that one day that you’ll be able to see me. As I write this note, it is the day before the election. I have no idea what the outcome will be. Win or lose, please know how much this meant to me to share this journey with you.” That’s genuine, Wendy. Into someone at least from my recollection, I didn’t do much. I was a supporter but the day before the election, taking the time to do that, it stuck with me and I hope people will see that when you’re in the fight, you’re in it for what’s right. If you do run for Congressional District 21, the people will have a good voice for them in Washington.
Thank you, Jason.
Let me know what happens and I’ll be watching to see what happens. Next time I come to Austin, you will be my first call.
I better be.
Thanks. I’ll talk to you soon.
About Wendy Davis
img class=”alignleft size-thumbnail wp-image-517″ src=”http://thebyrdchronicles.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/05/Wendy-Davis-150×150.jpg” alt=”TBC 7 | Deeds Not Words” width=”150″ height=”150″ />Wendy Davis is the founding director of Deeds Not Words, a non-profit that seeks to empower and activate the voices of young women in public and political discourse. She is a former Texas State Senator, 2014 Texas Democratic Gubernatorial nominee, frequent public speaker and author. Wendy gained national prominence in 2013 when she strapped on a pair of pink sneakers and held a 13-hour filibuster to protect women’s reproductive freedoms in Texas. Her fight ultimately led to a successful and landmark decision in the U.S. Supreme Court, strengthening the landscape for abortion rights throughout the country.
Raised by a single mother with a ninth-grade education, Wendy began working after school at age fourteen to contribute to the family finances. By the time she was nineteen, she was living in a trailer park with a baby daughter and holding down two jobs. Despite those challenges, Wendy became the first person in her family to attend and graduate from college, beginning at community college, ultimately graduating first in her class at TCU and with honors from Harvard Law School.
Wendy spent nine years on the Fort Worth City Council, focusing on neighborhood economic development. She was elected to the Texas state senate in 2008 in an under-dog win. In the senate, she sponsored bills on everything from cancer prevention to payday lending to protecting victims of sexual assault to government transparency. In 2011, she led the fight against a state budget that underfunded public schools by $5 billion, leading the Republican-led senate to strip her of her position on the education committee. It was not the only effort to silence her. She narrowly won her 2012 election only after an almost two-year battle in federal court, where she won a challenge to the Republican gerrymandered redistricting plan that attempted to redraw her district and doom her re-election chances.
In 2016, Wendy founded Deeds Not Words to give women the tools needed to turn their passion into effective action – teaching civic engagement skills to young women who use what they learn to organize, advocate for policy change and increase voter participation.
Wendy is frequently invited to appear on MSNBC and CNN, and contributes regularly to publications such as Time, Cosmo, Teen Vogue, The Hill and many more. In 2014, Davis released her autobiography Forgetting to Be Afraid.
A proud mother of two daughters (Amber and Dru) and two granddaughters (Ellis and Sawyer) Wendy is a tireless and tenacious advocate for women’s reproductive, social and economic equality.
Wendy knows no change comes without walking the walk. From her 13-hour filibuster in the Texas State Senate to her legislative efforts to support the LGBT community, Wendy has pushed for progress. Again and again. And she’s still pushing.