Friday, September 15, 2006

Ann Richards, 1933 - 2006

A few good stories about Ann Richards, who died Wednesday. She was governor before I got here, and I never met her, but for some reason I still somehow really miss her. She was what politicians and leaders should be: real, and funny, and human.

A few of the best of the many tributes, anecdotes and stories that I've so far:
  • Remembering Ann Richards - Molly Ivins

    Ann was the candidate of everybody else, especially for women. She represented all of us who have lived with and learned to handle good ol' boys, and she did it with laughter. The spirit of the crowd that set off from the Congress Avenue Bridge up to the Capitol the day of Ann's inauguration was so full of spirit and joy. I remember watching San Antonio Mayor Henry Cisneros that day with tears running down his cheeks because Chicanos were finally included.

  • "A Texas Legend" - from Burnt Orange Report
    I drove Ann to dinner one night, just the two of us. The election outcome was very much in doubt. It was raining, and my wipers screeched on the windows.

    “I don’t know, I don’t know,” she said.
    “Know what?” I mumbled.
    “Know what to do if we lose. There are so many people depending on me. Young people. Women. Texas. We just can’t lose.” If WE lose, she said. I didn’t respond. I didn’t know what to say. We rode along in silence, with the damned windshield wipers shreeking.

    Ann wasn’t worried about her losing. She was worried about us. She didn’t want US to lose, and by “us” she meant all Texans who had been so casually forgotten by an ignorant good-old-boy system, by a racist past that still haunts us today, by a cold-as-coffin-nails callous state government somehow always trumped old small-town Texas neighborliness.

  • Orange. And Blue. - from Burnt Orange Report
    As it came time for Ann to speak, I told her the press had left, so we wouldn’t be getting any coverage of her speech. I expected her to be unhappy about it, but she wasn’t and went back to adding notes in the margin of her already beautiful speech.

    When she started, I recognized the words as they flowed along. But you could also see and hear that Ann’s emotions were building, unlike the day’s previous speeches. Somewhere along the line – maybe 15 minutes in – she cast the speech aside and started roaring with a fury the likes of which I’ve never seen before or since. The crowd went crazy – repeatedly interrupting her with standing ovations and screams and shouts and amens.

    It all came so fast and furious that I don’t remember the words. But it left a deep, permanent impression on me and I suspect everyone in that room. Afterward, I felt like I’d stood in the face of a hurricane.


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