By Adriano Perez, Campus Organizer (University of Texas at El Paso), Texas Freedom Network
My family moved from Mexico to the United States in 1993 shortly after I was born. My mother, father and three already-grown siblings did this so that I could grow up in the country that promised a better life. Texas became our home and there we built a life that was founded in perseverance and an unrelenting sense of hope. It is because of my family that I am an activist. It was their hope that made me realize a better life — a better Texas — would be something I’d have to fight for, and their perseverance has fueled me when faced with an onslaught of attacks from the Texas legislature.
In the fight for a better Texas, I joined the Texas Freedom Network and its army of young activists and organizers. Passionate, hardworking and dedicated to our goal of creating meaningful change in Texas, we have decided that we cannot continue to let other people decide our future. Together we form the backbone of Texas Rising — a project aimed at millennials (people ages 18-29) on our campuses and in our communities who are creating a more engaged and empowered generation of lifelong voters. In a state that ranks 48th in civic engagement, millennials are one-fourth of the electorate and are only projected to grow. The millennial vote carries enough power to decide every election, and that’s why we’re tapping into it through campus and community organizing.
One of the issues millennials are organizing around is the continuing legislative assault on reproductive health care, including access to abortion care. Everything is bigger in Texas, and Texas legislators have proposed more anti-abortion legislation — at least two dozen bills — than legislators in any other state. But where there are big problems, you can be sure that there’s a movement, just as big, fighting back. That’s why a coalition of progressive organizations across the state — including Texas Freedom Network, NARAL Pro-Choice Texas, ACLU of Texas and many others — have come together to launch “Trust. Respect. Access.” This partnership campaign is intended to restore trust in Texans to make their own reproductive health care decisions, respect for health care professionals’ judgment and access for all people to the full range of reproductive health care in Texas.
On February 26, 2015, young activists from all over Texas came together at the state Capitol to present their representatives with a proposed set of bills intended to reverse the damage caused by anti-choice legislation and to ask for their support. To continue this work, Texas Rising formed a rapid response network designed to keep a watchful eye over the 2015 legislative session and help millennials take action immediately to kill or support bills, as needed. Across the state, activists have continued to work toward a better Texas by writing and collecting letters to our representatives to support the campaign’s slate of proactive legislation.
The journey to a better Texas, in which access to reproductive health care is a reality for all Texans, is an uphill battle. But we love our state more than we’re angered by our legislature – and we’re in it for the long haul.