AUSTIN – The Texas NAACP is calling on the African American community and their allies to assemble at its Legislative Lobby Day on April 4 to help beat back several legislative bills that will harm, hinder or setback much of the progress African Americans have made in the past few decades. Those bills, if passed, will have the most devasting impact on young Texans of Color – Millennials and Gen-Z Texans – by diminishing and decreasing their educational, economic, political and workforce opportunities, Texas NAACP leaders said.
“Make no mistake, these bills are anti-Black and anti-Latino,” said Gary Bledsoe, President of the Texas NAACP. “We’re talking about everything from the continuation of suppressing voting rights to eliminating programs in Texas colleges and universities that help recruit, retain and support African American students as well as other students of color.
“The intent of state leadership in pushing these bills is to establish a permanent underclass of citizenship for Black and Brown people without regard to your talent or education.”
The Texas NAACP Lobby Day will be at the Texas AFL-CIO building, located at 1106 Lavaca St., Ste. 200 in Austin. An orientation will be held from 7:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. prior to going to the Capitol. The orientation will cover legislation and issues important to all African Americans, including children in public schools, college students, working adults, veterans and older adults who are retired.
Several bills have already been filed promoting anti- diversity, equity and inclusion, which would hinder and eliminate initiatives that recruit and retain African American and Latino professors and employees at Texas public colleges and universities. Those measures also would hurt the ability of public colleges and universities to recruit, retain and support African American and Latino students headed to college. Black students already are significantly underrepresented at Texas flagship universities, such as the University of Texas, and Texas A&M University, but also at many other public universities. Also, Hispanic and Black faculty already are disproportionately underrepresented at major public universities in Texas. Current DEI policies were helping to level the playing field, according to the Texas NAACP.
However, the group has asked for African Americans to turn out to support a bill that would require that Black History and Hispanic History be a requirement for high school graduation. Currently, those subjects are electives. Also, the group stated that Blacks need to strongly support legislation that would prohibit public schools from permitting and tolerating the harassment of Black students by calling them the N-word as we have seen in Southlake ISD, Grand Prairie, Slaton ISD and Lubbock ISD. The bill is being carried by state Rep. Ron Reynolds, chairman of the Legislative Black Caucus.
Nevertheless, there is a move by Texas leaders to remove or greatly limit the teaching of those histories in high school.
Another bill the Texas NAACP said was important was one that would create an African American Historical/Cultural Commission. Support is needed to get that bill passed.
Public schools again are under attack because of legislation that is pending that would transfer money from public schools to private schools via a voucher program Republicans have labeled, “Education Savings Accounts.” Most students in public schools are Black and Hispanic. Along with Asian students, they represent the largest enrollment in public schools. In the past, our interests have aligned with the interests of rural Texans, including rural Republicans who have opposed vouchers, and we are trying to keep that alliance this time around. It will be tougher because of Gov. Abbott’s campaign to pass vouchers, group leaders expressed.
Also, they stated that Republicans are signaling they aren’t finished with voter suppression, with several measures that would continue limiting the voting rights of Blacks and Latinos.
“As you can see, our house is on fire! We ask that you turnout for our Lobby Day and you don’t have to be a member of NAACP. These are matters that impact all Black Texans,” representatives stated.
“This is a game of numbers,” Bledsoe said. “We can show up and hold our lawmakers accountable or stay home and let this generation and the next be irreparably harmed. Clearly, we all need to converge on the Capitol and raise our voices. We’re looking at the potential elimination of so many initiatives that have helped level the playing field for African Americans and other People of Color.”
For more information, contact Texas NAACP Administrative Staff Lonzo Kerr at firstname.lastname@example.org or 512-659-4816; or Texas NAACP Assistant Texas NAACP State Secretary Sherley Spears at email@example.com.