To mark the centennial anniversary for a woman’s right to vote in Texas, KUT Austin spoke with “civic-minded Texas women who are changing our world today”, including Texas PTA President Sheri Doss. Listen to Sheri’s segment (“An Original”) online at the Texas Standard.

Audio transcript:

My name is Sheri Doss and I am the President of Texas PTA.

When I was going through high school and learning about the struggles that women and African Americans were going through just to even gain the right to vote, I made a promise to myself, that when I turn eighteen, I would definitely go vote. If for no other reason than just out of respect for the sacrifices they made [for me] to have this privilege. I really became passionate about voting and advocacy and civic engagement when I was elected to the State Board of Texas PTA.

I witnessed Texas PTA on one of our Rally Days. We were able to be successful in advocating to reduce the number of end of course exams for our students, and that’s when I realized that our voice matters. We can make a change if we do our research, advocate, and actually go to the polls and vote to have those decision makers in office that will make the decisions that we would like them to make.

PTA is really a network of millions of families, including parents, community members, and business members. Texas PTA is the second largest PTA with over half a million members. Those membership numbers matter in PTA because that is the power of our voice influencing any type of legislation.

It did start off as a mother’s club many many years ago in 1909 for Texas PTA. And we will be celebrating our 110th birthday, our anniversary, in October – October 19, 1909 is when we were initially established at the State Fair in Texas.

[Women] were being very influential with different laws around our kids, even before we had the right to vote. So when the suffrage came to a point where the women were really ready to do something about their own right to vote, naturally PTA was right there with them.

Now you see us in positions, like Congress which has the most women ever. And [Texas PTA] has a youth advocacy program coming up at UT in June and overwhelmingly the majority of the applicants were girls. So, I think it matters. We get the right to vote, we were able to influence and make a real difference in this country.

I happen to be the first African American President for Texas PTA and so those things are changing as well in terms of demographics for Texas PTA. So, everyone should be able to see a place for them to be a leader and have some influence on our children’s education and just their overall well-being.