On Saturday, April 7, from 3-5 pm, the Paramount Theatre on Congress Avenue was filled with women of all ages, many decked out in western boots and pink attire. This gathering of festive Texan women was inspired by the presence of Cecile Richards, former Planned Parenthood CEO, daughter of Texas governor Ann Richards, and author of a new book, “Make Trouble.” She was interviewed by another popular progressive woman, former state senator and Democratic candidate for governor Wendy Davis.
Richards’ new book chronicles her life growing up, her history as a labor organizer, and her lengthy record of making what Rep. John Lewis has called “good trouble.” Highlights of the event included Richards’ response to audience questions, some of which were indecipherable, and remembering her mother’s advice that it’s never too soon to get started in public service.
Surprisingly, Davis was not a particularly engaging interviewer. She seemed locked into her list of prepared questions, so the “conversation” felt less like a discussion between friends and colleagues and more like a prepared interview.
In contrast, Richards is a warm and engaging storyteller, who connected every question back to the stories of other women she wanted to highlight, like Lori Hawkins. Hawkins is a woman in Wisconsin who became politically active when then-U.S. Representative Paul Ryan was working to close down Planned Parenthood, an organization that had helped her become pregnant when ovarian cysts made the possibility seem unlikely.
Hawkins and her daughter, now 14 years old, went to Ryan’s office in D.C. to talk to him about the important role Planned Parenthood played in allowing her to become a parent. Lori was later featured on a televised CNN town hall over the Graham-Cassidy bill and Obamacare, and is now being asked to run for the Wisconsin state senate.
Davis did ask the question everyone is wondering: what’s next for Richards after leaving her position as the President of Planned Parenthood? Richards declined to fill us in at the time, but did comment that she was stepping aside from the role in order to make room for the next generation, which seems to nix the rumor that Davis herself will take over from Richards.
The release of a book by a public official and advocate could be seen as first step toward running for public office. If that is the next path she’s choosing to take, it should be a very interesting race to watch.