Jamarr Brown and Odus Evbagharu

It’s a new day in the state of Texas. Or at least new-ish.

Two Black men were recently named to major leadership positons within state Democratic Party organizations.

Odus Evbagharu has been elected chair of the Harris County Democratic Party. He is the youngest person and the first African American to hold the position of HCDP Chair.

Jamarr Brown has been named co-executive director of the Texas Democratic Party, along with Hannah Roe Beck. He is the party’s first-ever Black executive director.

Why is this significant?

Texas is not new to the racism/white supremacy game. Current voter suppression and gerrymandering antics are mere modern expressions of a multi-generational reality.

In fact, Texas has a long, storied and well-deserved reputation for anti-Blackness. Examples include refusing to free enslaved Blacks until 2 1/2 years after the Emancipation Proclamation (i.e. Juneteenth); the Camp Logan Rebellion; whites-only Democratic primaries; Tulsa-like race massacres and lynchings in Longview, Waco, Sherman, Beaumont, etc.; convict leasing as revealed via the Sugarland 95; and the dragging death/murder of James Byrd in Jasper, just to name a few.

Camp Logan Headline from 1917 Houston Press. Photo courtesy TSHA Online.

Moreover, In spite of what Gov. Greg Abbott’s “1836 Project” seeks to teach, scholars are clear that Texas was wrestled away from Mexico (stolen) so that slavery would find another land mass that supported what historians labeled “The Peculiar Institution.”

READ: Houston’s Camp Logan Riot Remembered, https://defendernetwork.com/news/local-state/houstons-camp-logan-riot-remembered/

Before Texas even because a state in 1845, the Constitution of the Republic of Texas made slavery legal immediately after the Texas Revolution ended in 1836 (I guess that was the project).

READ: Sugar Land 95, Convict Leasing, https://defendernetwork.com/news/local-state/deal-to-rebury-sugar-land-95-may-be-falling-apart/

In modern national politics, Texas is seen as bastion of anti-Black and Brown conservatism. That reputation is based on the GOP’s stornghold on the governor’s office and both branches of state government.

However, the demographic shfts and recent election results have Democrats believing Texas has a real shot at turning blue (Democrat-leaning). Some political scientics have already declared Texas purple, and thus a battleground state that is up for grabs for either the Republicans or Democrats to control in the near future.

Harris County, Texas, one of the most diverse urban areas of the country, elected 19 African-American women on the bench during the 2018 elections. The group calls itself “Black Girl Magic. Photo courtesy of the Harris County Democratic Party.

The Atlantic, a national magazine, published a Nov. 3, 2020 artice entitled “How Texas Turned Purple.” In that article, written by Adam Serwer, James Henson, director of the Texas Politics Project stated, “The raw numbers in Texas, and the year-to-year or the election-to-election increase [in voter turnout] is really, you know, fairly stunning. Texas is competitive this year, and it’s much more competitive than we’ve seen for 20 years.”

The ascensions of Evbagharu (Harris County Democratic Party) and Brown (Texas Democratic Party) are significant because they reflect an awareness on behalf of the Democratic Party that the party base responsible for putting the state of Texas back in play must have a say in the direction of the party moving forward.