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Why Lt. Governor Patrick Snapped — Houston “You’re Not the Capital of Texas!”



TX— My grandma, Nannie Turner, has lived in Third Ward for roughly 80 years. Given that from 1880 to 1965 underhanded tactics prevented African Americans from voting, she’s seen voter suppression in every form.

“No matter what, if you were Black and voted back then,” Granny recalls, “your vote would’ve been no good [invalid]!”

Though the pain is invisible, far too many Afro-American voters can’t hide the scars. When I asked my uncle Mike (Turner) why he wasn’t big on voting, his answer struck me as profound. “Nephew,” he said, “voting does nothing but let me choose from options already chosen for me!”

As fate would have it, another “Turner” from Houston — though of no kin — was elected mayor in 2016.

Mayor Sylvester Turner promised to reinvigorate Houston’s voting system. He promised to make it more inclusive for people of color. And so, in an effort to live up to that lofty promise, last year the mayor and other Houston-area leaders enacted voting laws that would make the process more “voter-friendly.”

Perhaps Luis LaRotta — a former Republican candidate — was onto something when she suggested, “If you really want to get people out to vote, make it a holiday.”

Ah, but Lt. Gov. Patrick apparently wasn’t in the “voter holiday spirit.” He blasted Turner and others for enacting what he deemed “unconstitutional” laws.

Last year Harris County set in motion laws for all-day and drive-through voting. Also, the new “voter-friendly” system would protect against mass-mailing absentee ballot applications to residents. Senate Bill 7, however, threatens to put a halt to such voter-friendly measures.

Patrick recently lashed out at Harris County for what he called overstepping its authority.

“I have news for Harris County: You’re not the capital of Texas!” Patrick said. “The state capital resides in Travis County, in the city of Austin, in this building, not in the county judge or the mayor’s office. Harris County does not make policy and create law for the other 253 Texas counties.”

Turner called the bill “Jim Crow 2.0.”

“The right to vote is sacred,” said Turner. “In the 1800s and 1900s in this country, women, and people of color had to fight to obtain that right to vote … In 2021, we find ourselves again fighting bills filed in legislatures across this country that would restrict and suppress the right of people to vote.”

As for Patrick’s saying Houston isn’t the capital of Texas, ahem, technically from April 19, 1837 until Jan. 19, 1839, Houston was indeed the capital of Texas!

Let’s talk facts, not opinions. … The facts say Houston is the cultural and entertainment capital of Texas. From the Houston-natives Beyoncé to Travis Scott, not to mention Megan Thee Stallion, it’s no accident in 2012 Forbes ranked Houston “the coolest city in America.” After all, Houston is home to NASA.

And then, there’s Houston’s “Hometown Hero,” Trae tha Truth.

From holding voter registration rallies to helping the impoverished youth of Texas, Trae can boast of being the only relevant rapper to have transitioned to being a real-life activist worthy of a local holiday (“Trae Day”).

Let’s talk numbers, not words. … The numbers say Houston is the largest city in the South. And just as when most people think of NY, the first thought is New York City . . . of Georgia, the first thought is Atlanta, when most people think of the Lone Star State — they think of Houston, first.

In short, given that Mayor Turner never once made mention of Houston’s being the capital, but Lt. Gov. Patrick did, perhaps this marked a classic case of a Freudian slip.