HBO’s documentary on the life and accomplishments of Ann Richards is a wonderful tribute to the political maven. Through a series of interviews with Ann’s loved ones and colleagues—including her daughter Cecile Richards (who has been president of Planned Parenthood since 2006), former President Bill Clinton, Tom Brokaw, Nancy Pelosi, and members of her administration and campaign teams—producers Keith Patterson and Philip Schopper capture the spirit of the woman who became Treasurer and then Governor of Texas.
My favorite parts of this documentary are the sound bytes from Richard’s powerful speeches, including her address that opened the Democratic Convention in 1988. Her incisive wit demonstrated the strength of her character: she was a woman who was never afraid to stand her ground and work toward bettering the lives of the citizens that she loved to serve. Under Richard’s watchful eye when she headed the Treasury of Texas, the state saved six billion dollars that were being squandered elsewhere. After a rigorous campaign for the gubernatorial election against Clayton Williams, a wealthy rancher who was entirely unqualified for the job—through which she faced slander and fabricated allegations of cocaine use from her opponents—Richards went on to pass bills that reformed drug addiction treatment within prison systems, revamped public school spending and funding across the state, and enforced inclusion within her administration. Richards made a point to “open the doors of government to all”, appointing black, Hispanic, and homosexual employees to various offices within her administration, in an effort to reflect the real diversity within Texas’ population.
Richards truly is an inspirational figure in American government, and she deserves much more celebration and fanfare than she’s been given. But this documentary is definitely a start. All About Ann: Governor Richards of the Lone Star State premiered Monday, April 28th on HBO, and will be aired April 30th, May 1st, 4th, 7th, 10th, 13th and 20th. Check your local listings for showtimes, as well as HBO GO/On Demand for more availability!
Photos via kcet.org and HBO.