Carroll G. Robinson, law professor, attorney and Democratic activist, took time out from his hectic schedule to do an email interview via iPhone. He discussed his role as chairman of the Texas Coalition of Black Democrats, Trump lies, Cruz complicity, and why Black Lives Matter as organizers fight to turn Texas blue. The interview follows:
The Texas Coalition of Black Democrats recently published the first issue of its newsletter, Texas Black Dem News. It is out in time for the legislative session in Austin. What is the Texas Coalition of Black Democrats? How long has the group existed? Why is it needed? What does it do?
The Texas Coalition of Black Democrats is the largest and most active organization of Black Democrats in Texas as it relates to public policy advocacy, civic engagement and political participation. The Coalition was founded in 1980 in Austin, Texas by Black Democrats from across the state. The Coalition was founded to ensure that Black Democrats in Texas would have a meaningful voice in the decision-making process in Texas politics, policymaking and inside Texas Democratic Party politics at all levels.
The sad reality is that The Coalition is still needed today. In Texas, there has only been one Black Democrat ever elected statewide. That was Judge Morris Overstreet of the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals. There has never been a Black chair of the Texas Democratic Party (TDP) or of the largest county party (Harris County) in the state and there has never been a Black Speaker of the Texas State House, just to highlight a few examples.
Nationally, there is no Black woman currently serving in the U.S. Senate, no Black woman elected to Democratic leadership in the U.S. House and no Black Chief of Staff to a Democrat in the U.S. Senate.
What issues does the group want to see addressed in Austin?
The Coalition has a comprehensive legislative agenda that was published in the 2nd issue of our newsletter that can be reviewed on our website at TexasBlackDemocrats.com. People can subscribe to the newsletter for free by sending an email to [email protected]
Are there local, state and federal lawmakers who are working with the Coalition to advance issues of common interest? Can you name a few officials? And the areas of common interest?
Yes. The Coalition is supported by the members of the Texas Legislative Black Caucus (TLBC). the Texas members of the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC), Black county commissioners, mayors, city council members, constables, sheriffs and judges as well as elected officials who are white, Hispanic and Asian.
National media play a song every four years. It’s called, “Will Texas Turn Blue?” Will it? When? What needs to happen before the change occurs? What role does the Coalition play in the process?
Texas will Turn Blue sooner than people expect. Which pundits picked Georgia to turn blue for Biden and elect both a Jewish and Black United States Senator in the same year? To Turn Texas Blue Texas Democrats are going back to work on Building From The Bottom Up. You can find my plan in the 3rd issue of The Coalition’s newsletter on our website at TexasBlackDemocrats.com.
Are coalition members working with other advocacy organizations in the Lone Star State? Which ones? What types of projects? Voter protection? Registration? Specific legislative issues?
Yes. Coalition chapters and individual members are working with multiple partner organizations on voter registration, voter issue education, get out the vote efforts, know your rights workshops, campaign schools, voter protection efforts, redistricting, elected officials’ accountability and lobbying the Texas legislature. Visit The Coalition’s website to learn more about the work we are doing. TexasBlackDemocrats.com.
Can you tell readers about some of the leaders of the Coalition? What is their background and experience?
The leadership of The Coalition comes from all across the state and from a variety of backgrounds and experiences.
Former President Trump is home in Florida now. But Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, who supported the Trump call to overturn the November election with lies, is still doing his thing in Washington, D.C. Do Texans have any power to get him out of office before he runs again in about five years?
The Coalition has called for Ted Cruz, as well as Republican members of Congress who voted to reject the electoral college vote, to resign or be removed from Congress. We have also called on Texas Governor Abbott, Lt. Governor Patrick and Attorney General Paxton to also resign for enabling the lies of Donald Trump. Check out our newsletter. The Coalition is already getting prepared for the 2022 and 2024 election cycles. If you want to help us defeat Trumpism in Texas, go to ActBlue and donate to the Texas Black Democrats PAC. You can also donate at our website, TexasBlackDemocrats.com.
Are there Texans – whether in the military, law enforcement, academia or elsewhere – who supported the Stop the Steal lie and the resulting terrorist attack on the nation’s Capitol? Is the Coalition speaking out against these anti-democratic actions?
Yes, there are and they have been identified in news stories in the Washington Post, New York Times and local newspapers across Texas. Absolutely, The Coalition has been speaking out on the insurrection and the racial disparities in law enforcement highlighted by the difference in treatment of the people who invaded the Capitol and the Black Lives Matter protestors.
Many Americans learned about voter suppression because of the recent Senate runoff elections in Georgia. Tell me about voter suppression tactics in Texas and how your organization is fighting this anti-democratic effort.
The Coalition has been involved in lawsuits opposing voter suppression tactics in Texas during the 2020 general election cycle. We also have a voter protection project lead by attorney Carvana Cloud. In Texas, Republican voter suppression tactics go back well before 2020. Don’t forget about then-Republican Congressman Tom Delay’s mid-decade redistricting and the Republicans’ racial gerrymandering in 2010. Check out the Texas Tribune for stories on all the voter suppression lawsuits filed in 2020.