The Biggest Gathering In Houston Yesterday

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The biggest gathering in Houston yesterday should tell America all it needs to know about Rick Perry. I'm not talking about the estimated 30,000 individuals who visited Reliant Stadium yesterday for The Response, a event endorsed by religious extremists and known hate-mongers.

I'm talking about the 100,000 Texans who waited in line for free school supplies, immunizations, fresh produce, and school uniforms.

The Houston Chronicle reports:

Some families camped out for hours to gain admittance into Houston's first-ever, citywide back-to-school event at George R. Brown Convention Center, where free backpacks, school supplies, uniforms, haircut vouchers, immunizations and fresh produce were provided.

Others were turned away.

“It was getting beyond capacity,” HISD spokesman Jason Spencer said. “If nothing else, it shows the need.”

While our three-term governor was busy self-promoting to evangelical Christians in preparation to announce his bid for President, the actual people he governs were attempting to mitigate the damage he's done to regular working Texas families just trying to get by. While Perry's faithful lined up to break their fast with hot dogs and nachos, his constituents stood in the 90+ degree heat for bags of fruit and vegetables.

Sadly, there weren't enough school supplies available to meet the tremendous need:

Beatrice Jones, who has two children in the Spring school district, arrived about 10:15 a.m. with her daughter and niece, only to find the doors closed and a police officer announcing the event was over.

“They were supposed to have school supplies, but all we got was sweating and paid parking,” Jones said.

School Superintendent Terry Grier posted a Twitter message Saturday morning that security personnel had estimated the crowd at 100,000. At about 10 a.m., officials made the call to close the doors.

Although planners didn't know how many people would attend, they expected to serve at least 25,000 children, officials said.

Where are the gasping media reports of over 100,000 Texans waiting in the hot sun for school supplies and food? Where are the statistics about how Texas has some of the highest rates nationally of poverty and food insecurity in all of the breathless coverage of Rick Perry's 'Texas Miracle'? Where was the caravan of reporters from news outlets across America, interviewing the victims, rather than the worshipers, of the Perry administration? I suppose it's nice that The Response had an almost four-fold increase in turnout for a day of prayer over the expected 8,000, but it's horrifying that a charitable event for families of Texas schoolchildren should also see such a tremendous increase in turnout.

After all, needy families are about as common in Texas as failed missives to the Almighty are at Reliant Stadium.

Am I crazy and naive to wish that those 30,000 in attendance at Reliant had spent their time yesterday actually clothing the poor, feeding the hungry, or visiting the sick, rather than just praying for the free market to fix it for them?

Because while Rick Perry was ministering to the flock at the football stadium, it sure looks like a whole lot more of the “least of these brothers and sisters” were waiting in line for school supplies yesterday, not waiting in line to sway and pray.  

About Author

Katherine Haenschen

Katherine Haenschen is a PhD candidate at the University of Texas, where she studies political participation on digital media. She has previously managed successful candidate, issue, voter registration, and GOTV campaigns in Austin. In addition to serving as the president of Austin Young Democrats, she is also UCONN's #1 fan in Texas.

2 Comments

  1. + 1
    I was at Reliant yesterday — inside and out — and I can certify that the folks there and the folks at the GRB could have really done so much for each other if they had worked out a dual meetup.

    But then that would have been walking your walk instead of praying your talk. My impression of the people leading PrayerMania — demonstrated by the eleven-year record of the governor of Texas — is that they don't do “hands-on” help.

    The extent of what they use their hands for is to clasp them or raise them.

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