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Why voting matters to these Texans — then and now

Hear Texas advocates describe their takes on the practice of voting and its importance to themselves and their generation.

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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.

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.

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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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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.

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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.

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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.

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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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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.

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