On February 1, Texas Advocates for Justice was honored to host a state-wide gathering of individuals whose lived experiences include incarceration, detention/deportation, and mental illness. The kNOw More Advocacy Day featured spirited marching, memorable speeches, an indelible art exhibit, and powerful conversations with Texas legislators. The daylong gathering was planned and led by individuals whose lives have been most affected by Texas jails.Watch video highlights of the day!
The day began at 9:30 as chartered buses from Houston and San Antonio dropped off members of organizations from those cities, which included the Texas Organizing Project, All of Us or None, Path to Freedom, Latinas Trans de Tejas, LUPE, RAICES, and others. After a breakfast of locally donated breakfast tacos, the march began at 5th and San Antonio, led by the high-stepping Reagan High School Drum Line. The marchers, totally perhaps 200, walked to the Blackwell-Thurman Criminal Justice Center, which is also the location of the downtown jail. The group stopped there to allow two speakers and a spoken-word artist to deliver a message to those in the jail - regardless of whether they were being held on immigration detainers or criminal charges - that they were not forgotten.
Continuing on the Capitol, the marchers were joined by local activists from groups such as Fight for 15, Anarchist Black Cross, and Mijente. After a short break to share water and Johnnies, which are sack lunches similar to what are provided Texas prisoners who are on lockdown, the rally began with a blessing from local indigenous healers, followed by 45 minutes of spoken word and speeches by directly affected people from San Antonio, Houston, Ohio, Austin, and Arizona. The group was then invited to view an installation of art donated and fashioned into a stunning display of perseverance and courage.
(See article on art installation here.)
For the rest of the afternoon, led by TAJ members from both Houston and Austin, the group made its way from office to legislative office, expressing opposition or support of bills intended to outlaw sanctuary, limit Fair Chance opportunities, fund true community-based mental health services, and a range of issues that have and will continue to have an impact on the TAJ mission to focus on the racialization of Texas over-incarceration.