Gov. Greg Abbott and the Governor's Commission for Women announced Monday that they are inducting six "extraordinary" Texas women, including one Austin face, into the Texas Women's Hall of Fame for 2020-2021.
The women are chosen for their outstanding achievements in their fields; filling in the business category, jewelry designer and entrepreneur Kendra Scott will represent Austin this year in the hall. The induction ceremony will be held on Nov. 4 at Texas Woman's University in Denton, Texas.
"The Texas Women's Hall of Fame recognizes and celebrates remarkable Texas women not only for their individual achievements but also for their contributions to an even stronger Texas of tomorrow, and I am honored to welcome these six accomplished women as inductees," Abbott said. "Each of the honorees is recognized as a trailblazer, an inspiration for the next generation of leaders who will follow in their footsteps."
Kendra Scott, business
As founder of the jewelry empire of the same name, Scott is being recognized for her "extraordinary entrepreneurial spirit," strong leadership abilities and continuous philanthropy in support of women and children's causes.
Lauren Anderson, arts
A lifelong ballerina and one of the first Black dancers to become a principal dancer for a major dance company, the Houston Ballet, Anderson's artistic achievements, philanthropy "inspiring children to reach for the stars," and barrier-breaking accomplishments earned her a spot in the hall.
Charlye Ola Farris, legal profession
(Wichita County Historical Commission)
Born in 1929 in Wichita Falls, Texas, Farris would go on to become the first female lawyer in her hometown and the first Black woman to serve as the Special Wichita County Judge in 1954. Though she passed away in 2010, Farris is being inducted into the hall for her "pioneering role" in the legal sphere and "paving the way for others by overcoming adversity with dignity and perseverance."
Dawn Ferrell, military service
(National Guard Biography)
A retired Major General in the U.S. Air Force, Ferrell was a principal advisor to the Adjutant General of Texas for all Air National Guard issues and is being recognized for her military service and contributions to higher education.
Elaine Stolte, community service
Known for her advocacy for decades of service connecting child sexual abuse survivors to help services, Stolte, strategic policy and partnership advisor for The Children's Assessment Center Foundation in Houston, was inducted for her work as a "tireless advocate" who gives a voice to children.
Ofelia Vasquez-Philo, civic leadership
(San Marcos Public Library)
A prominent figure in nearby Hays County, Vasquez-Philo founded the Centro Cultural Hispano de San Marcos community center and was an active promoter of Hispanic heritage. She passed away in 2017 but will be remembered for her "legacy of community service and trailblazing leadership in support of civil rights and the preservation of Hispanic arts, culture and heritage."
All six women, joining former First Ladies, astronauts and other significant women, will be forever immortalized with a photo and biography in the Hall of Fame at Texas Woman's University. Women have been nominated for the list biennially since 1984.
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After months of speculation, a new report says political personality Beto O'Rourke is mulling a run for Texas governor that he will announce later this year.
Sources tell Axios the former congressman is preparing his campaign for the 2022 election, where he will likely vie for the position against incumbent Gov. Greg Abbott. The only other candidate that has announced he will take on Abbott for governor is former Texas GOP Chairman Allen West—no Democrats have announced they are running as of yet.
"No decision has been made," Axios reports David Wysong, O'Rourke's former House chief of staff and a longtime adviser, said. "He has been making and receiving calls with people from all over the state."
A new poll from The Dallas Morning News and University of Texas at Tyler shows O'Rourke is narrowing the gap between himself and Abbott's prospects for governor. In the poll, 37% said they'd vote for O'Rourke over Abbott, while 42% said they'd vote for Abbott.
Abbott has been in the hot seat due to his handling of COVID-19 and the signing of landmark legislation into law, including new abortion and voting rights laws; 54% of poll respondents voted they think the state is headed in the "wrong direction." Still, Texas hasn't had a Democrat as governor since the 90s.
O'Rourke's people-focused approach to the 2018 Senator race, which he lost to Sen. Ted Cruz, gave him a widespread following and many hoped he'd throw his hat into the ring since he said he was considering it earlier this year.
"We hope that he's going to run," Gilberto Hinojosa, the state chair of the Democratic Party, told Axios. "We think he'll be our strongest candidate. We think he can beat Abbott because he's vulnerable."
Austin rapper Jordi Esparza may not have won the 2021 Red Bull Batalla, the world's largest Spanish freestyle rap competition, but for a spirited two rounds, the 22-year old Mexican native looked like he had every right to.
On Saturday evening in Los Angeles, the event itself looked like Cobra Kai meets Star Search with graphics adding a very Batman Beyond aesthetic. Over a dozen rappers hoping to represent the U.S. in the international round of the competition took to the stage with in-your-face jabs at accents, sexual orientation and odors, among other things.
This was Esparza's second rodeo; he had placed third at the 2020 National Finals, automatically securing him a spot this year.
However, things were different this year. He was not nervous about the contest. Unlike in 2020, when he made his Red Bull Batalla debut, the anxiety of the event led him to "feeling so bad."
Affecting a casual calm, the locally-based landscaper said he just felt "so relaxed, so happy" and primarily wanted to "enjoy everything."
Choosing his first-round opponent, Esparza, whose stage name is Jordi, elected to go against LA-based Boss.
Esparza freestyled an attack on his opponent's weight and cholo style of dress.
Boss—bracketing his Latin freestyle with English appeals to the crowd—mocked Jordi's lack of education, made fun of how clean Jordi's shoes looked and suggested that Jordi just came back from a Footlocker.
That first round went to Jordi.
But his next opponent Eckonn would prove to be his undoing.
Eckonn compared Jordi to Hannah Montana, while Jordi soulfully explained that he had learned from the best.
Esparza's verbal dexterity is matched by a rattling rhythm and a game face that is as mawkish as it is mockish. The overall effect is that of an underdog with bite.
Eckonn beat Esparza in that round with the overall championship going to Palm Beach-based rapper Reverse.
However, Esparza was just happy to be there. He recently told Austonia going to the finals again was a dream come true—a pinnacle that he said he won't know how to top.
With his nimble jabs and sneaky prowess, honed from pop culture and the swagger of a young working man hungry to be more, Jordi Esparza is just getting started.