State Representative Senfronia Thompson has been around for a long time. She has lived through it all and seen it all. Jen Fifield wrote an excellent article about our Texas stalwart.
Legislator Who Stood Up to Sexism in '73 Sees Some Progress
By Jen Fifield
Colleagues warned Senfronia Thompson that speaking out would jeopardize her political future.
It was the spring of 1973, and 34-year-old Thompson had just started her first term in the Texas House of Representatives. Earlier that day, she was walking into a popular lunch place near the Capitol in Austin when Democratic state Rep. C.C. “Kit” Cooke saw her and said loudly, for everyone to hear, “Oh, here comes my beautiful black mistress.”
She was infuriated. That same afternoon, Thompson, a Democrat, stepped onto the House floor to tell her mostly white, male colleagues she would not tolerate racist or sexist insults.
“We will never root these maladies out of Texas,” she said, “unless we start with ourselves in this House of Representatives.
Even as sexual harassment allegations explode in statehouses around the country, Thompson, now 78, says that in Austin’s pink granite Capitol, she doesn’t see male lawmakers and lobbyists harass women like they did 44 years ago. Nevertheless, the nation’s longest-serving female legislator says that when it comes to winning and wielding political power, women remain at a distinct disadvantage. [More]