Sunday, March 20, 2016

Texas Gov. Ann Richards: 'She represented inclusion'

When Texas columnist, journalist, and humorist Molly Ivinsspoke about her friend, Ann Richards in an interview a month after Richards’ death, she said:

Let’s talk about Annie. I’ve been writing about her and thinking about her, and what I remember is that the ’90 campaign was so crazy. I mean, there was Ann, running as the New Texas, against Clayton Williams, who kept personifying the Old Texas, right down to the boots and the racist and sexist comments. She represented inclusion—it was about bringing people in who had never been part of the good-old-boy establishment.

In her eulogy for Richards, who had just died of cancer (which Ivins would also succumb to in 2007), she shared:

One of the most moving memories I have of Ann is her sitting in a circle with a group of prisoners. Ann and Bullock had started a rehab program in prisons, the single most effective thing that can be done to cut recidivism (George W. Bush later destroyed the program). The governor of Texas looked at the cons and said, “My name is Ann, and I am an alcoholic.”

She devoted untold hours to helping other alcoholics, and anyone who ever heard her speak at an AA convention knows how close laughter and tears can be.

Though Ann Richards would serve only one term as the Democratic governor of Texas, from 1991 to 1995, she would place her brand on history and affect the role of women in politics for generations to follow.

The definitive book on her life and legacy is Let the People In: The Life and Times of Ann Richards, by Jan Reid, who was a longtime friend. 

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