I first heard about Wendy Davis on my Facebook feed. I think of a lot of us did. “Have you heard about this Senator with the pink sneakers?” I asked friends at the time. “There’s an anti-abortion bill in Texas that she’s trying to stop, and she’s holding court until time runs out so they can’t pass it.”
In June 2013, that was all I knew. But since then, Wendy Davis and her 13-hour long filibuster have become truly iconic. The bill in question was written to restrict abortion access across Texas, shortening windows for when they can happen and effectively shutting down most clinics with new, difficult-to-implement rules. If it sounds familiar in 2016, that’s because the bill ultimately passed in Texas but went on to be fought at the Supreme Court this year.
There’s a reason “iconic” is used in connection to Davis. Growing up in Forth Worth, Texas, she hustled to the top. She gave birth and got divorced all by the time she was 19 years old. She went from being a single mom to becoming the first person in her family to graduate from college. After that, Davis went to Harvard Law School. During her second marriage, she had a second daughter—but also two abortions because of medical issues. Wendy Davis has no lack of stories to tell about why abortion access is vital.
So when Senator Davis took the Senate floor in 2013, in pink sneakers that conjured up references to both Planned Parenthood and feminine power, women across the country saw so much more than a filibuster. The best movements have a deeply personal story attached to them—and better yet, a symbol. Wendy’s got it all.
Now, she is harnessing that energy for a movement of her own making. Davis is launching Deeds Not Words this month, an organization helping young women turn their interests into actions. In addition to a newsletter with curated stories, they’ll host a digital hub where you can find organizations working on issues you care about, events, and even other community members to chat with. In their first year, the Deeds Not Words team is working with 10 college campuses on projects of the students’ choosing.
I was lucky enough to chat with Wendy about Deeds Not Words, get some life advice on how to rule a room, and even get the download on those darn sneakers.