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Happy Birthday to Ann Richards! Champion Debater! Champion Leader! Champion Feminist!

by Erik Fogel | Sep 1, 2017 6:00:00 AM |

Ann Richards

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"I did not want my tombstone to read, 'She kept a really clean house.' I think I'd like them to remember me by saying, 'She opened government to everyone.'"  ~Ann Richards



Happy Birthday to Ann Richards, born September 1st, 1933.  Richards, who was named Dorothy Ann Willis at birth, passed away on September 13, 2006 at the age of 73. One of America's top leaders, feminists and a high school and college debater - even earning a college scholarship because of debate! 


Ann Richards attended Waco High School in Waco, Texas, where she was a key member of the school debate team.  Her great orator and debate skills earned her a debate scholarship to prestigious Baylor University. Upon graduating from Baylor, she earned a teaching certificate from the University of Texas, Austin.  Her first career out of college was teaching social studies and history at Fulmore Junior High School in Austin. But, she also volunteered her time working with many political campaigns and causes. She had a particular affinity for focusing on women's rights and social causes. This passion culminated in Richards deciding to run for office herself. 


Her first victory was securing a commissioner position in Travis County. Six years later, she was elected Texas State Treasurer. As the first woman elected to office Texas state office in fifty years, she was re-elected for a second term. She gained nationwide attention as the keynote speaker in the 1988 Democratic National Convention. Her jab at fellow-Texan (then Vice President), George H.W. Bush, "Poor George, he can't help it. He was born with a silver foot in his mouth," was a famous example of her fiery personality.


But, it was Richard's ability to communicate her passion to include more women and minorities in state government that helped get her elected as Texas' second female governor. In her four-year tenure, true to her word, she appointed an unprecedented number of minorities and females to state posts. She also concentrated on improving public schools, creating programs to deal with widespread substance abuse and instituting a number of much-needed prison reforms. After her term as governor, she helped create the Ann Richards School for Young Women Leaders in Austin. This female-only school emphasizes developing leadership skills in the 6th-12th grade girls who attend. 


Ann Richards used her voice to shatter the glass ceiling in the Texas political system. That voice was trained in high school and college debate classes. Join your school debate team today and begin your training!


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