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Youth-led Texas organizations take over the Capitol for legislation meeting


Senior political science major and policy intern of Deeds Not Words, Joslynn Sanchez, teaches her group how to drop bills at the capitol.

On March 29, over 300 Texas youth walked down the streets of downtown Austin. Holding up their signs and stepping in unison they chanted, “The people united will never be defeated.”
Students were bussed to the capitol from several cities across the state including Houston, Laredo, San Antonio and San Marcos.

Joslynn Sanchez, a political science senior and policy intern for the organization Deeds Not Words, said that the day started at 10 a.m. with training for students. 
“We spoke about the process of organizing and how it has long-term goals,” Sanchez said. “We had an emphasis on asking [students] to not burn out and definitely take care of yourself because this isn’t necessarily easy work.”
Sanchez said that the training also gave students tips on how to be more involved in their advocacy with lessons on tabling and how to speak to representatives. 
“We emphasized that [student]’s work and their presence in something like an advocacy day matters,” Sanchez said. “We also went over how to be optimistic about organizing and getting involved because it’s one step in a bigger process.”
MOVE Texas’ Hays County Regional Coordinator Jay Beck said that the main goal of the event was to promote education.

“We want to just make sure that people can actually see the place where change is made and laws are made,” Beck said. “We want them to see that we have a right to be in this space just as much as any lawmakers do.”

After training, students and youth walked to the Capitol together to listen to speakers from different organizations in attendance. Students held signs in the air and ensured that their cheers were heard across the building. 
“We had people talk about their experience in voting and why being equitably represented matters across all issues,” Sanchez said. “Voting is a very intersectional issue because it affects all the other issues that matter to young people in Texas.” 

Beck said that young people speaking out at the rotunda and being involved is very important to MOVE Texas’ cause. 

“It’s super important for I think young people and students especially to see that not only this change happening but we can be a part of that change in really significant ways,” Beck said. 

Elle Johnson of the Austin Liberation Youth Movement spoke about the juvenile criminal justice system in their speech. 

“It should not be up to the state to decide what to do with our loved ones,” Johnson said. “This room is full of youth ready to make a change.”

During her speech, the communications manager of MOVE Texas, Tori Falcon, said that she hopes to continue a fight to protect the earth and environment. 

“Young people are the moment and the movement,” Falcon said. “They are uniquely positioned to lead all frontiers for a better world.”
Each speaker stood at the podium intending to make their causes known. Some speakers also brought their art to the podium with slam poetry and drag performances.
“The speeches were really awesome,” Sanchez said. “I think we had a good variety of speakers that kind of talked about these different topics that were definitely relevant to the youth that was there at advocacy day.”

Students were then led in groups to speak to representatives and to learn how to “drop cards” on house bills using kiosks stationed around the Capitol. 

“Dropping a card is essentially when a bill has its hearing in the Senate or the House, an individual constituent can say they are for it or against it without having to testify in front of people,” Sanchez said. “You can go to the Capitol and drop a card which just digitally states your opinion.”

Beck said that the event had been in the planning stages for about a year before turning into a reality. 

“We’ve come to the Capitol before. We’ve done lobby days and our advocacy team has been fighting against these laws since springtime has come around,” Beck said. “But this huge day of action just takes a lot of planning takes a lot of collaboration with other organizations.”

According to Sanchez, the event went according to plan and had a good turnout. 

“Seeing other people access their state government and their representatives for the first time in their lives because a lot of them came from so far away showed me that I think that this advocacy had a very big impact on them,” Sanchez said. 
Beck said that she hopes the students learned that they belong in their legislation. 

“I feel like we think of the Capitol and even voting is like this big and scary thing,” Beck said. “It’s only that way because people try to make it big and scary so that young people don’t get out and vote. They’re trying to put up barriers to keep us out. I think when we break those barriers ourselves and say, hey, no I belong here is when students feel empowered.”

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  • MOVE Texas communications manager, Tori Falcon, gives a speech about the environment during the rotunda speeches, Wednesday, March 29, 2023, at the Capitol Building.

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