State Rep. Vikki Goodwin forms anti-racism advisory group in western Travis County

Western Travis County saw a series of peaceful protests following the death of George Floyd on March 25. (Courtesy Chris Backus)
Western Travis County saw a series of peaceful protests following the death of George Floyd on March 25. (Courtesy Chris Backus)

Western Travis County saw a series of peaceful protests following the death of George Floyd on March 25. (Courtesy Chris Backus)

As protests erupted in downtown Austin following the May 25 killing of George Floyd in the custody of Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin, the call for racial justice also gained momentum in suburban areas outside of the city, including those within western Travis County. Local leaders, from school superintendents to city mayors, responded to the emergence of anti-racist activism.

Floyd’s killing also spurred a response from state Rep. Vikki Goodwin, D-Austin, whose House District 47 encompasses cities including Lakeway, Bee Cave and Spicewood.

For the past several years, Goodwin has been focused on criminal justice reform after joining the bipartisan Criminal Justice Reform Caucus in the Texas House of Representatives last year. However, Goodwin said Floyd’s death signified a need for change that goes far beyond the criminal justice system.

In June, Goodwin turned to her constituents to form an anti-racism advisory group in western Travis County composed of 15 individuals, including local school board members, professors and area activists.

“[The group] is putting an equity lens on everything from education to housing to jobs,” Goodwin said.


Together, the group will advise Goodwin on how she could best use her platform to enact change. Members may decide to focus on housing segregation, equity in school districts or several other platforms.

Though much work is on the horizon, Goodwin said the group’s conversations have already proven to be enlightening, as members continue to shed a light on discrimination within their own neighborhoods.

During the group’s introductory meeting June 12, members shared personal experiences with racism while living in the western Travis County region.

“Everybody talked about the racism and discrimination that they have faced in their lives, day to day,” Goodwin said. “I tend to think that we’ve made progress on civil rights, and hearing those stories really was surprising.”

During the initial meeting, a member of the anti-racist advisory group who identifies as a Black male recounted a time when he was mistaken for a landscaper while he was on his own property. He said his neighbor made the assumption that he could not possibly reside in a predominately white, gated neighborhood.

Another female member of color was asked if she worked as a housekeeper while shopping at a grocery store in the Lago Vista area.

“I think it makes us realize that we need to go further than just having a discussion. I think we really have to get at it head on,” Goodwin said.

The group gathered July 16 to draft a mission statement with the goals of passing meaningful legislation, hosting anti-racism events and using positions of influence to address systemic issues.

A mission statement for the anti-racism advisory group states its purpose is “to open dialogue in our community on the damaging effects of racism and bring about equity and opportunity to Black, Indigenous, and People of Color in House District 47 and across the State of Texas. We will bring greater awareness of bias and roadblocks to racial equity, address systemic racism, and pinpoint ways we can dismantle these systemic issues.”

The anti-racist advisory group will meet every three weeks, with the next meeting scheduled for Aug. 7.
By Amy Rae Dadamo
Amy Rae Dadamo is the reporter for Lake Travis-Westlake, where her work focuses on city government and education. Originally from New Jersey, Amy Rae relocated to Austin after graduating from Ramapo College of New Jersey in May 2019.


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