Texas AFT Joins Poor People’s Campaign Rally to End ‘Death by Poverty’ 

This past Saturday, hundreds of Texans attended a rally and march hosted by the Texas Poor People’s Campaign at the state Capitol. The rally was held with rallies at 32 other state capitols and the nation’s capital in Washington, D.C. 

The coordinated events were intended to uplift the voices of economically insecure Americans and to demand that state legislatures take steps to end “death by poverty.” Happening on the Saturday before “Super Tuesday,” the coordinated events were also intended to mobilize millions of eligible voters from low-wage households before an important primary Election Day and in anticipation of the general election this November. 

Many organizations, including Texas AFT, sponsored and supported the Texas Poor People’s Campaign event in Austin. Two Texas AFT members also spoke at the rally: Phyllis Ruffin, a retired educator from the Houston area, and Coretta Mallet-Fontenot, a teacher in Houston ISD.  

Ruffin and Mallet-Fontenot recounted their personal experiences as parents and educators and spoke to the importance of fully funding public education, so that students, parents, and educators can thrive. Mallet-Fontenot described her experience as an educator in HISD and the importance of voting, especially in the face of the state takeover of her district, the state’s largest. Ruffin, meanwhile, spoke about her journey in education, starting as a paraprofessional and working her way to become a behavior interventionist. 

Speakers and attendees offered diverse solutions for the state to address issues of poverty; apart from the need to fully fund public education, those in attendance noted the importance of Texas lawmakers taking action to increase the minimum wage, expand Medicaid eligibility, and repeal unjust immigration laws, such as Senate Bill 4