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Banners throughout Texas mark 30th anniversary of Gov. Ann Richards' Inauguration

The parallels between the Clayton Williams and Ann Richards 1990 race and the 2016 presidential race are close.
Kenneth C. Zirkel
Wikimedia Commons (CC BY-SA 3.0)
The parallels between the Clayton Williams and Ann Richards 1990 race and the 2016 presidential race are close.

It's been 30 years since a Democrat has been the governor of Texas. That was also the last time a woman ran the state – Ann Richards.

In honor of the anniversary, San Antonio has hung 60 banners downtown, which will remain up for a couple of months.

The banners feature Ann Richards' image and some of her words to live by. They're the work of the Ann Richards Legacy Project.

Richards served as governor from 1991 to 1995. She had big white hair, miles of Texas twang and a sharp wit.

The founder of her legacy foundation, her former deputy press secretary Margaret Justus, said Richards was best known for her political toughness.

"She was really brave when it came to the public policy issues that she took on. They were not the most popular things, but criminal justice reform, you know school finance. She tried to curb gun violence. She brought ethics reform," Justus said.

The banners can be seen along several streets in downtown San Antonio, including the intersection of St. Mary’s Street and Houston Street as well as on Travis, Commerce and Alamo Streets.

The banners feature 12 different designs with images and notable quotes from the legendary leader, including the one from her breakthrough 1988 keynote speech at the Democratic National Convention: “Ginger Rogers did everything Fred Astaire did, she just did it backwards and in high heels.”

"Ann Richards opened the doors of state government to many Texans who previously lacked a seat at the table. She personified the Texas spirit of courage and independence," said San Antonio Mayor Ron Nirenberg in a press release. “Gov. Richards was a trailblazer, who was bold and whose humor was disarming and persuasive. Her dedication to our state and public service inspired millions of Texans, and the banners will remind Texans anew of the importance of public life. The banners are worth the trip to see them.”

Some of the San Antonians Richards mentored or appointed to Texas boards and commissioners include Lupita Gutierrez, Ed Whitacre, Nelson Wolff, Alma Lopez and Stan McClellan. She also appointed Ambassador Bob Krueger of Fredericksburg to the U.S. Senate, according to a news release from the foundation.

“The San Antonio Ann Banners introduce Ann’s legacy to new audiences and inspire new generations of leaders who, like Governor Richards, will continue to fight for the disenfranchised,” said Raise the Ann Banners co-chair, Patricia Smothers. “I am very proud to lead this effort.”

The downtown San Antonio banners also include other notable quotes by Richards, who was known for her wicked and self-deprecating sense of humor:

• Life isn’t fair, but government must be.

• I’d like them to remember me by saying, ‘She opened government to everyone.’

• Always look ahead, never look back.

• I get a lot of cracks about my hair, mostly from men who don’t have any.

• Sobriety has freed me to deal with failure and never give up.

• Cherish your friends and family as if your life depended on it, because it does.

• Teaching is the hardest work I have ever done, including being Governor.

• I have a real soft spot in my heart for librarians and for people who care for books.

• If you think taking care of yourself is selfish, change your mind.

• You can put lipstick on a pig and call it Monique, but it is still a pig.

Private contributions are being raised locally to fund the project through the Ann Richards Legacy Project. The Austin-based nonprofit launched the banners concept with the Downtown Austin Alliance earlier this year along Congress Avenue.

The same banners are on display in Austin, Dallas and Houston and can be installed in other Texas city or town who wish to host them. When the banners come down, the organization plans to sell them and the proceeds will help build a permanent tribute to Gov. Richards.

Richards died of cancer at age 73 in 2006.

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