Former Texas Governor and feminist leader Ann Richards died Wednesday after a six-month long struggle with esophageal cancer. Richards was the first female governor of Texas to win in her own right, beating out Republican millionaire Clayton Williams in 1990. Prior to becoming governor, Richards was county commissioner and state treasurer.
Helping others usually ignored by Texas politics, especially women and minorities, was Richards’ reason for entering politics, according to the Associated Press. Living up to this goal, Richards appointed more women and minorities during her time in office than any of her predecessors, dubbing her administration the “New Texas”. After losing her re-election bid to George W. Bush in 1994, Richards continued to advocate for women’s equality, including the development of a women’s leadership school set to open in 2007.
Richards used her visibility and sharp wit to encourage other women to run for office, helping to elect countless women to public office and other positions of power. She was the co-founder of the National Women’s Political Caucus, an organization dedicated to recruiting, training, and electing women to political office. Richards was also a Texas delegate at the National Women’s Conference of 1977, which passed a historic platform of action to achieve full equality for women and men.