In the Archives: Texas Freedom Network

I was recently made aware that boxes full of documents providing the details of the organization with which I started my professional political life, Texas Freedom Network, have been donated to the Dolph Briscoe Center for American History.

Not expecting to find much as they’ve only just been donated (and boxes remain outstanding to be sent), I searched to see what had been digitized, if anything, about TFN. 

One hit for “Texas Freedom Network” came up in the search on the site, but it’s a good one. It’s from a 2000 interview with Adlene Harrison, the first female mayor of Dallas and a former regional administrator for the Environmental Protection Agency, archived with the Conversation History Association, Texas Legacy Project records. 

The interviewer, David Todd, opens by describing Harrison:

[I]t’s October 17, year 2000. We’re in Dallas and we’re at the home of Adlene and Maury Harrison, and we have the good chance to, to be interviewing Adlene Harrison, who has had many roles in public service on behalf of the environment, of having served on the City Council here in Dallas, as Mayor, Mayor Pro Tem, being administrator for Region 6, EPA, and for being on the board and chair of DART, the mass transit agency here in Dallas, and many other roles that she’s played. 

Not until the second part of the interview is TFN mentioned, in response to this lovely question from Todd:

David Todd: What is your advice for people who care?
Adlene Harrison: Get involved with, either run for office where their vote can count or their voice can count or join groups that care about it and swell the ranks. I mean, I’m going to give you a group I think that’s made more progress, I’m talk, not talking necessarily about the environment, they care about that too, is the Texas Freedom Network. Do you know about that?
DT: (?)

AH: The Texas Freedom Network was started by Ann Richards daughter. She was transferred with her husband out of state. A young woman whose last name is Smoot(?) runs it now out of Austin. They have increased their membership tremendously and they send out a newsletter with facts in it. There’s no bull in it and they make you aware of what’s going on in this state, okay? That kind of group is worthwhile to give to and to join. They care about public issues. They care about health issues and health issues are environment. They fought like crazy for that Children’s Health Insurance Program. So you got to find groups like that that are very vibrant, that are very courageous, and be part of them. Because, as an individual, that’s how you find your voice. You you cant just find it by yourself. I mean, I had a voice but how did I have it? I was, you know, I worked on bond issues first. I worked with senior citizen organizations, with homeowners. I helped start the full first homeowners association so they’d have a voice. I got elected so your name gets out there. You’re on television, people recognize you, they hear you so you got to make your choice of where you’re going to do that. If you cant run for office or you don’t want to, then help these organizations that are good. Research them. Get involved. When you go back to Austin, is that where you live?
DT: Uh huh.
AH: You ought to talk to that woman at the Texas Freedom Network. I mean, you know, you can give her issues that the state should be doing or whatever and, if it fits in, I mean, she’s a voice. And Republicans and Democrats alike belong to that. Its not a partisan group. So that’s the only thing I can say on what you do. I’ve never given up but, by gosh, I know how to open doors and, and I started way back there, I didn’t know how to open them. It takes a lot of hard work if you’re willing to work.