Rise Up Texas

From the September-October 2013 issue of News & Letters:

Rise Up Texas

photo by @leahmarie0304

photo by @leahmarie0304

New York City— An overflow crowd at Bluestockings Bookstore heard Hallie Boas speak on “Come and Take It: How the Fight to Protect Women’s Healthcare Is Launching a New Wave of Feminism in Texas.” Boas told the crowd that “Rise Up Texas” was born as a consequence of the battles for freedom in the Middle East against fanatical religious fundamentalism, which is also behind the new anti-abortion law in Texas.

The group was galvanized by the historic 13-hour filibuster in June by state legislator Wendy Davis. Boas said her group invited 50 people to a planning meeting and over 150 showed up. They realized that people of color, who would be hit hardest by the draconian new laws, were not represented. So Rise Up Texas began to recruit where Latino and Black populations are concentrated and built a strong multinational coalition.

Rise Up Texas coordinated some of the strongest opposition in the recent battle over the passage of draconian anti-woman bills in the Texas legislature.

They organized General Assemblies where all people were invited to speak and share in decision-making and then the divided into working and affinity groups.

There were repeated marches and rallies at the State Capitol. People—young, old, white, Black, Latino/a, men and women—joined together and created such a commotion that one Right-wing lawmaker described the group as a “riotous mob using Occupy Wall Street tactics.”

Once the new draconian laws were passed, 35 of 42 women’s healthcare centers closed leaving only seven places in Texas where women could have abortions. The law also banned abortions after 20 weeks. In protest dozens of women dressed in black, stood in silence in the State Capitol holding signs that said simply, “Shame.”

Boas credited the growth of Rise Up Texas to its efforts in poor and working-class neighborhoods and in educating people on what the impact of these laws would be on the people of Texas. She said that they consciously framed the issue in terms of the broad attack these laws made on the healthcare of all Texans.

—Michael Gilbert

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