Art offers his perspective as a movement progressive activist.

“I am working for the time when unqualified blacks, browns and women join the unqualified men in running our government.” – Sissy Farenthold

Sissy Speaks Truth!

This week, as President of Meyerland Area Democrats, I was able to get a progressive legend to come and speak. Her name is Sissy Farenthold.

See, Sissy was the first woman elected to the Texas House, back in 1968. She took out a good ole boy and won the House seat in South Texas. Farenthold became a household name as the “den mother” of reformers in the Texas House, her courage to take on the corruption there made her a national hero. Her actions directly led to the toppling of most the corrupt figures in the legislature in what became the Sharpstown Stock Scandal.

Then in 1972 she did the unthinkable again: she ran for governor. It was a media sensation and a explosive firestorm: a liberal woman running in her own right against the conservative Democratic Party machine. Sissy’s run empowered a new generation of progressives in the state, and even by losing she scored a win. She peeled off votes from the embattled incumbent Governor Preston Smith and long groomed LBJ/ Connally protégé Lt. Governor Ben Barnes. Thus, banker Dolph Briscoe wound getting the most votes and went into a runoff with Sissy! He won the runoff and political history was made. Farenthold’s run had cost two Texas incumbents the governorship.

That same year of 1972 more history was made: she was nominated at the Democratic Nation Convention for Vice President. She is the first woman to have had such real consideration and it almost happened, but alas she got second place in the voting. She went on to run in 1974 again for governor, lost, then established many organization such as the National Women’s Political Caucus.

Although Sissy only served two terms in the Texas legislature (1968-1972) she made a massive impact on her state and the national scene. Without Sissy you do not get Ann Richards or Hillary Clinton.

At our meeting she discussed the need for all of us to start being more vocal about the plight of the people in this nation. She is a major supporter of Occupy Wall St., was in New York when it started, and yes, talked to the protestors there and here in Houston holding rallies. She warned that this election will be very difficult for Obama because of how terrible the economy is and the growing masses of poverty.

Sissy expressed outrage of the lack of a real women’s movement against the barbaric new anti-abortion and anti-voting laws . She urged the women in the crowd that the time has come to stand up and be counted. Sissy expressed that Occupy shows the way for women to start fighting the male dominated system in Washington for their economic needs.

Sissy urged that change won’t come via the crew in DC. Or at the state capitol. It would come through raising our voices and pushing hard against the corrupting forces in this nation.

You see Sissy gets that standing up can have a positive effect. She stood up to the graft in the Texas House and unleashed the toppling of many good ole boys there. In 1969 she stood up to the national Democratic Party by being the lone vote against a resolution praising LBJ’s Vietnam leadership. Someone had to say no to that war despite LBJ being the leader of her own party. We must have her kind of courage going forward.

You could say Sissy has been a Occupier for a very long time. She is a maverick, a rebel and a real progressive who fights for her values and will not be silenced by the establishment. The answer to our political problems I think is more Sissy Farentholds. It will take that to end the power of the oligarchy and moneyed interests we are living under.