TCRR Fall Quarter Retrospective 2008

Our quarter-year of absence at the Texas Civil Rights Review has coincided with the electoral revolution led by Barack Obama, so we couldn’t be more pleased to have a picked a season during which little more needed to be said.

Yet the time of absence wasn’t chosen so much as it was delivered with a bundle of priorities that left not a spare minute to type in. At one point, it was only thanks to a delayed airplane that I was able to hammer out a fast note to a contributor. The competing priorities this past quarter were entirely welcomed, so worry not; our energies are well, our spirit intact.

In the short time I have to write tonight, I’d like to reflect upon what usually goes on here, and why we miss it.

The Texas Civil Rights Review was founded in 1997 as on online archive dedicated to racial equity in the Land Grant system of higher education in Texas, and, by proxy, across the USA. Thanks to that work in the 1990s some real progress was made for some real people. And as we look forward to Change, please remember Mr. President that equity in the Land Grant system is still possible, still worthy, and perhaps more than ever a timely theater for economic and democratic renewal of ourselves and our posterity.

After a few years of exile from Texas politics (perhaps not unrelated to our successes in the Land Grant establishment) we returned in 2003 with a hopping mad interest in what had happened to affirmative action policy, and we proudly outed a blue-ribbon report from a Land Grant college committee that recommended affirmative action in admissions. (We still like to call it integration, remember?)

As Summer turned to Fall in 2004 we covered the trial for public school funding in an Austin District Court, and documented the courageous struggle of the Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund (MALDEF) to uphold the principles of equitable funding, especially for impoverished Hispanic children.

On Christmas Eve 2004 we posted our first of many letters from federal prisoner Ramsey Muniz. We still say it would be a righteous act to pardon Ramsey and set him free.

In the opening months of 2005 we covered the hearings that officially certified the election of Hubert Vo to the Texas House of Representatives. We followed up on the Vo hearings with a massive review of the hearing documents. (Rep. Vo has since been re-elected twice. In 2008 he won a comfortable 56 percent of the vote.)

In April of 2005 we reported on thousands of pages of documents that we reviewed at the office of the Texas Secretary of State regarding the construction of a statewide voter database that was built to satisfy the so-called Help America Vote Act (VAWA).

During the summer of 2006 we filed an open records request with the Texas Governor seeking documentation for the deployment of the Texas National Guard to the border with Mexico. We were told there were no documents. Later that year, we followed a rising flood of immigration issues that culminated in the federal roundup of several Palestinian families from the Dallas area who were cruelly treated regardless of age or pregnancy status.

In 2007 we let fly a few thousand words over the converging issues of immigration injustice in Texas, symbolized by the Hutto family prison and the border wall reflex. If Change means anything, it should make a difference on both of these issues.

Earlier this year we covered the federal harassment of Albanian refugee Rrustem Neza, who was finally released to live with this wife and children after a year of meaningless imprisonment at Haskell. And we reported on the shocking detention of Bujar Osmani who was nabbed by federal agents while taking a bathroom break at a law office.

As the summer of 2008 turned into record swelter, we reported the death, the federal documents, and the dreams of Riad Hamad, ebullient champion of Palestinian children.

In these stories and others, we have been very nearly alone in our commitment to documentation and detail. So yes, there was something to miss when we were absent during the Fall quarter of 2008. If you missed us, you weren’t alone. We kind of missed us too.

As for the future, we remain realistic. The amount of time devoted to the Texas Civil Rights Review these past five years will not be sustainable, but the reasons for this are good ones. Your editor has not given up or burned out. I’m just busy.

Whenever I do have a few spare hours, you’ll know it. I’m here. I keep my eyes open. I may be out of the office a lot, but I ain’t giving up the lease. — gm

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