Did you know that if you recently moved, turned 18, changed your name, or haven’t voted in recent elections, you need to update your voter registration? Read More

This is the latest in a series of blog posts on Texas Rising, the Texas Freedom Network Education Fund's campaign to uplift the voices of the rising electorate, 18-29 year olds, across the state. By James Carneiro (writer bio) TFN Student Activist They came from every corner of the state. Some only had to make a quick jaunt over from San Marcos, others had to endure the eight-hour drive from El Paso. Some had been working with the Texas Freedom Network for years, a few of them had only just heard of the organization. They were a cross-section of an increasingly diverse state, representing every race, religion, and sexuality. No matter their differences, these people all had one thing in common: They are young, they are pissed off, and they are most certainly voting. The 2014 Texas Rising Summer Institute ran from July 31 to Aug. 3, and in that brief time a whole lot got done. Reproductive justice was an essential component of the institute. Activists gave presentations on combating the cultural stigmas surrounding abortion. Many people who have abortions are degraded as “selfish” and “irresponsible,” making it easier for anti-choice advocates to say abortion is immoral. The activists turned this argument on its head, letting people who had abortions tell their stories. This helps to humanize them and give them a voice they never had in the national conversation. Allowing people to tell their abortion stories is what the 1 in 3 campaign is all about, the activists said, and their stories clearly show why access to safe and legal abortion is a human right. Holly Doyle, the leader of TFN's Texas State chapter, gave an incredibly insightful presentation on why reproductive justice matters. Doyle said the legal right to an abortion is meaningless without actual access to one. In order to bring about reproductive justice, we must address structural inequalities rooted in racism and classism, she said. Read More

Last month we reintroduced you to Texas Rising, a TFN project that seeks to uplift the voices of the rising electorate, 18-29 year olds, across the state. This weekend more than 40 of those young people, all TFN student chapter members from all parts of the state, were in Austin for intensive training sessions we’re calling the Texas Rising Summer Institute.

We’d like to introduce you to some of these amazing young people, starting with Caitlin Rodriguez in a Q&A conducted by another Texas Rising student, James Carneiro.

Where do you go to school? What’s your graduation year and major? I’m a journalism major and a sociology minor at Texas State University and plan to graduate in spring 2016.

Where did you grow up? What was your childhood like? I grew up in El Paso. I had a really enjoyable childhood with my parents and my younger brother. My parents were and still are very supportive of anything I want to pursue, whether it be acting (I did a lot of theater until the end of high school) or writing or anything else creative. My parents pushed me pretty hard academically, but only because… Read More

By James Carneiro (writer bio) TFN Student Activist

The state of Texas isn’t exactly known for its level of political engagement.

It ranks last in civic engagement and many people don’t even know who their state representative is. The conventional wisdom says most people will stay at home while a tiny though highly powerful bloc of right-wing voters will make it to the polls in November. Not surprisingly, this has created a state where birth control is non-existent in health textbooks, the separation of church and state is questioned in the social studies curriculum and close-minded representatives try to pass bills defunding gender and sexuality centers on college campuses. And the above nonsense doesn’t even come close to the far-right backlash on reproductive rights. If we continue on this path, family planning centers could become only a memory.

This is why progressives need to fight back. In response to the right-wing onslaught, the Texas Freedom Network Education Fund has unveiled the Texas Rising campaign, a blueprint for capturing the energy and amplifying the voices of a rising young Texas electorate. The statistics make the importance of young voters crystal clear: 24 percent of eligible Texas voters… Read More

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