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Listen: From civil rights to Black Lives Matter, opinions vary on importance of voting among Texans across generations

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The March on Washington, Aug. 28, 1963 (left). Protesters in Austin, May 31, 2020 (right). Credit: Marion S. Trikosko (Library of Congress) / Jordan Vonderhaar for The Texas Tribune

Since the death of George Floyd, a Black man who was killed in Minneapolis police custody in May, thousands of Texans have taken to the streets to demand change. Many of these protestors have united around the rallying cry of “defund the police;” still, others have embraced the cause of the Black Lives Matter movement.

The scale and longevity of these protests have led to comparisons with the civil rights demonstrations of the '50s and '60s. At the height of these protests, in August 1965, the U.S. passed the Voting Rights Act. This landmark legislation prohibits racial discrimination in voting.

With the 2020 election fast approaching, The Texas Tribune invited Texans of the civil rights and the Black Lives Matter eras to share their perspectives on voting.

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Cloteal Haynes, 69

Cloteal Haynes, who was born and raised in Houston, witnessed the effects of school integration, going to both segregated and integrated schools throughout her lifetime. She was among the first class of Black undergraduate students to be admitted into the University of Texas at Austin, entering the institution 12 years after it began allowing Black undergraduates.

In 1968, Cloteal Haynes was a part of the 12th class of Black undergraduates admitted to the University of Texas at Austin. Seen here during her time at UT (left), and speaking on behalf of The Precursors, an organization of the first Black undergraduates at UT (right).

(Audio unavailable. Click here to listen on texastribune.org.)


Candice and Danielle, 20

Candice and Danielle, who have asked us to not include their last names for safety reasons, are the creators of Say It With Your Chest, an activism organization based out of Dallas. After wanting to see a change in their affluent, mainly white neighborhoods, they began organizing protests and rallies to bring the issues of Black Lives Matter to their neighbor’s front steps.

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Candice (right) and Danielle (left), 20, hold demonstrations across Dallas every week to bring the issues of systemic and institutional racism to their affluent neighborhood. Seen here at one of their protests.

(Audio unavailable. Click here to listen on texastribune.org.)


Shirley Fraser, 70

Shirley Fraser is originally from small town Ohio and was heavily involved in politics from a young age. As she grew older, Shirley became involved in the fight for rights for Black people and women during the civil rights movement before moving to Texas in her '30s. In 2016, Shirley became involved with the Democratic Women of Comal County, an organization aimed at promoting the Democratic party and policies across Comal County.

Shirley Fraser, who started as an outspoken high schooler in Ohio, now spends time in Comal County, Texas, advocating for equal rights for Black people in her community since the 1960s.

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(Audio unavailable. Click here to listen on texastribune.org.)


Oümoül Setamou, 23

Oümoül Setamou, who immigrated to the United States from West Africa when she was a child, is an educator and a reproductive health trainer based out of San Antonio. She focuses primarily on reproductive rights for women - specifically Black women. Setamou is a graduate of Trinity University, having studied anthropology and Women and Gender Studies.

Oümoül Setamou posing in front of a mural in New Orleans, LA, where she completed an internship with Women With A Vision, a collective led by Black women in response to the spread of HIV/AIDS among Black and brown communities .

(Audio unavailable. Click here to listen on texastribune.org.)

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Cordelia Grant, 71

Cordelia Grant, raised in a New Braunfels neighborhood where only 2% of the population was Black, watched the Civil Rights Movement unfold from her small town and felt the effects of it as word reached the people across the town.

Cordelia Grant was raised in small-town New Braunfels. She remembers getting wind of progress made in the midst of the Civil Rights Movement as she grew up. Shown here as a young woman (left) and celebrating her retirement from a New York nonprofit (right).

(Audio unavailable. Click here to listen on texastribune.org.)


Ashton P. Woods, 35

Ashton P. Woods was born and raised in Louisiana and became very interested in the rights of Black and LGBT people, starting New Orleans’ first Gay Straight Alliance group at his high school when he was 14. Currently, Woods is a leader of Black Lives Matter Houston and has been a part of that organization since 2013.

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Ashton Woods has been organizing for the rights of Black and LGBTQ+ people since he was in high school. He currently works with Black Lives Matter Houston and has been organizing with the group for years.

(Audio unavailable. Click here to listen on texastribune.org.)

Disclosure: University of Texas at Austin has been a financial supporter of The Texas Tribune, a nonprofit, nonpartisan news organization that is funded in part by donations from members, foundations and corporate sponsors. Financial supporters play no role in the Tribune's journalism. Find a complete list of them here.