Texas State Sen. Beverly Powell spoke at the Texas Wesleyan University Goostree Women’s Symposium on Tuesday.
Before she spoke, President Frederick Slabach reminded the audience at the Martin Center of Faye C. Goostree’s most memorable quote: “Everyone has something to give and a responsibility to develop it and share it with others.”
Goostree, he said, would be pleased that Powell has recognized that she has something to give, she has developed it, and that she has shared it with all of us.
Powell said she is the 22nd woman to ever serve as a Texas state senator.
“I want you to think about this,” she said. “In 174 years of statehood, with 31 seats in the Texas Senate, We are preparing today for the 87th legislative sessions. And I’m number 22. Today only nine women hold seats, that’s less than one-third of the body of the senate, and it is the most that has ever served concurrently.”
Powell ran through a brief history of the first legislative efforts that gave women the right to vote from the first failed attempt in 1868 to 1920, when the 19th Amendment was added to the U.S. Constitution.
Powell said that on Jan. 21, 2017, she traveled to Austin join her friends in a march of peaceful protest against Donald Trump’s inauguration. At the end of the day, while sitting on some steps across from the capitol building, she thought to herself, “What can I do, to do more.”
She then ran through the lives and history of Gov. Miriam “Ma” Ferguson and Gov. Ann Richards and their major achievements while in office. She also discussed the women that have held seats in the Texas State Senate, such as Barbara Jordan, Texas Wesleyan University alumna Kay Granger, Judith Zaffirini and many others.
As she discussed their achievements and many setbacks she said, “So what you hear is the constant thread of women who are born to lead, who take their disappointments, and who come back time and time to take their roles in leadership regardless of where they are called to serve.”
Several members of the American Association of University Women were in attendance. Wesleyan’s chapter was invited by the national association, said student Karen Duarte-Escobar.
AAUW member and Student Government Association President Alyssa Hutchinson said she wanted to cry during Powell’s presentation because “it is so motivating to hear these stories.”
Another AAUW member, student Christine Davis, said it was “empowering” to hear that Powell and Granger came from Wesleyan.
“We might not do something big like becoming a senator, but we can make a difference, big or small,” Davis said.
Powell left the audience with one final thought.
“Of all the first we talked about today we must, we must accelerate our progress to take our rightful place in government,” she said. “In our school districts, our cities, our counties, our state and our nation. Women make up 50.3 percent of the state population today and 50.8 percent of the national population. In order to truly have that representative government that Barbara Jordan talked about we have miles to go to reach that. Ladies, don’t let it take another 100 years to reach.”