It is hard to believe that we are approaching the one year anniversary of the people's filibuster. Just one year ago, the bill that would become House Bill 2 and eventually pass was working its way through the first special session, and nobody had any idea that we stood on the precipice of an outpouring of passion, engagement, and momentum in the middle of a hot, Texas, summer at the state capitol.
To commemorate the anniversary of this incredible event and to remind everyone why we need to keep fighting, Progress Texas launched #FightBackTx, an oral history of the filibuster and a call to action.
More below the jump.Consisting of almost 13,000 words and 26 interviews, #FightBackTX chronicles the filibuster from the first round of testimony on House Bill 60 in front of the House Committee on State Affairs through the eventual passage of House Bill 2 in a second special session and the devastating impact felt across the state since the law has gone into effect.
The interviewees include activists, legislators, and members of the press who were there to cover what seemed like a routine action against an anti-choice legislature and turned into a tidal wave of orange. It is poignant, easy to follow, and reminds us all of the truly powerful events that happened at the capitol last summer.
Whether you testified in front of a committee, shouted at the end of the filibuster, watched the livestream in your house, or followed the unfolding drama on social media, #FightBackTX will take you back to the raw emotion from those days under the dome. But, this oral history and massive undertaking isn't just about looking back – it's about taking that passion and racing forward.
Heather Busby, from NARAL Pro-Choice Texas, sees the momentum from last summer in the organizing that has continued since then, and hopes #FightBackTX will give people a focus for their passion:
Last summer the Texas Legislature pushed too far in restricting our reproductive freedom, awakening a sleeping giant. If there was any doubt about the momentum from last summer carrying forth into this year and beyond, the tremendous and continued outpouring of support and energy has put those doubts to rest. This is another opportunity for Texans to demonstrate that we don't support restrictions on abortion that cause clinics to close. We are fighting back.
As the fight has turned from in-person protests to a long, drawn-out legal battle, it can be easy to become discouraged or even complacent. Terri Burke, the Executive Director of ACLU Texas, hopes this project will reinvigorate the struggle:
While we continue to litigate Texas's anti-abortion law, this anniversary is a moment to remind
the thousands who found their voices last summer why they should still be outraged. Extremist Texas politicians railroaded this harmful law through the legislature based on a lie. The law does nothing to make women safer; it simply reduces access to a safe and legal medical procedure.”
As much as #FightBackTX is a commemoration of a moment in Texas history, it is just as much a call to action. As the campaign says, it is time to dust off your orange and get back in the ring. Whole Women's Health's Amy Hagstrom-Miller explains that there is still work to be done:
HB2 is an injustice and Texans need to speak up. Texas politicians continue to interfere with our reproductive healthcare options and the lies need to stop. Texan women and families need your help. Stand up, dust off your orange and speak up. Add your story, your voice matters.
In the end, #FightBackTX is a reminder of precisely this: that our voices do matter. The collective scream that ended the first special session and carried the filibuster to its successful conclusion was, for many, the first time they felt that the Republicans in control of the Texas Legislature were forced to hear what they had to say. For so long, many people existed in lonely silence, believing the rhetoric that they were anomalies in the red state of Texas. Last summer proved how wrong they were, and also how hard the conservative politicians and interests groups will fight to keep the status quo.
#FightBackTX urges us not to fall back into that silence, but to continue to use our stories of when our voices were heard to inspire each other to keep fighting for the kind of Texas we deserve. This fight goes straight to the ballot box, and it is far is from over.