Ann Richards: A tribute
Ann Richards was the first woman State Treasurer of Texas and the second woman to serve as Texas Governor. This is our tribute to her.
Dorothy Ann Willis was born September 1, 1933, in Lakeview, Texas. She grew up with her parents as an only child. While growing up, she did many excellent things that help her shaped as a person such as attending Girls State, a program created to civically engage young girls. In 1950, she graduated from Waco High School.
Ann attended Baylor University in Waco, Texas where she received her bachelor’s degree. She also received a teaching certificate from the University of Texas. She loved teaching social studies and history. Ann taught at Fulmore Junior High School in Austin.
In the 1970s, Ann began her career in politics. It was a huge step for her because, now, she could work to make Texas a better place from a policy perspective. She presented the Equal Rights Amendment to the delegates of the National Women’s Conference in 1978 but the amendment was never ratified. In 1976, she was elected to the Travis County Commissioner’s Court, defeating a three-term incumbent as a first-time candidate. Six years later, in 1982, she was elected the Texas State Treasurer becoming the first woman to do so. In 1986, she was reelected as treasurer.
Ann took the national spotlight in 1988 after she spoke at the Democratic National Convention, sharing her critical remarks of the Reagan Administration and then Vice President George H. W. Bush. In 1991, Ann was elected the 45th Governor of Texas becoming the first woman elected to the position and the second woman to serve in this role (Ma Ferguson was the first woman to serve but was not elected to the position). While in office, she focused on education. She knew that students had a hard time in school without the materials and support from the state government. One of her accomplishments was that she oversaw a revival of the state's economy. She helped the prison system create a substance abuse program for inmates that decreased the incarceration of non-violent offenders.
Ann maintained her political icon status well beyond her passing in 2006. The City of Austin honored Ann in renaming Congress Avenue Bridge to “Ann W. Richards Congress Avenue Bridge.” She is also the namesake for a young women’s preparatory academy in Austin, Texas.