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Photo by Richard Andrew Sharum

What the #BlackLivesMatter protests have accomplished so far in Texas

Texans are stepping up and demanding change — and getting it.

It’s no secret that Texas has a long history of racism. But over the last month, we’ve seen thousands of Texans across the state take action to demand a new era of racial equity in Texas.

Organizers in Jasper, an East Texas city known for racial violence and hate, hosted a Black Lives Matter rally against police brutality. In Vidor, which has historically been known as a “sundown town,” over 100 people showed up to honor the deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and other Black victims of police violence. In small cities and in large, thousands have protested for Black lives in a state that has a shameful and racist past. 

Now, things are beginning to change.

With the Texas legislature out of session and Congress slow to take action, it’s hard to see how the protests have already advanced progress. But on the local level, cities across the state are reevaluating the racist structures in their communities, from policing to education to Confederate monuments.  

Here’s a list of what the protests in Texas have accomplished so far.

Statewide

  • The Texas Legislative Black Caucus introduced the George Floyd Act, which would ban chokeholds and limit police use of force.
  • Independent experts will review racial profiling data across the state for the first time.
  • Views on #BLM in Texas have shifted as an overwhelming majority of Texans support police reform and a plurality support budget reallocation.
  • Some schools in Texas are updating their curriculums to include Black history. 

Dallas-Forth Worth

Austin

  • Austin City Council voted to cut the police budget by one-third and reinvest into violence prevention, food access, abortion care, and more. 
  • The University of Texas at Austin will rename buildings named after racists, honor civil rights advocates, and increase Black student and faculty recruitment.
  • Austin City Council voted unanimously to move money from the APD budget toward social services.
  • City Council also voted to ban the use of chokeholds, as well as bean bags, rubber bullets, tear gas, and pepper spray during protests.
  • The City Council set a goal to eliminate racial discrimination in traffic stops.

Houston

San Antonio

Rio Grande Valley

El Paso

  • El Paso City Council passed an “El Paso Strong” resolution, which aims to eliminate racial disparities in police interactions.
  • El Paso will also implement a new police recruitment and hiring process, a civilian-involved discipline review board, and a shooting review team.
  • Robert E. Lee Road will now be named Buffalo Soldier Road, after African American soldiers who protected settlers moving west after the Civil War.

Though these are good first steps, there is so much more to be done to achieve racial equity and justice here in Texas and across the country. Texans must continue to fight until the world we envision is a reality. 

Note: This is an ongoing list. We will continue to update as more cities across Texas take measures to combat police brutality and racism.