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In March 2021, the Downtown Austin Alliance Foundation and the Ann Richards Legacy Project teamed up to celebrate Women’s History Month and give a boost to downtown Austin by installing a striking series of ninety-six “Ann Banners” along Congress Avenue from the Ann Richards Bridge to the Texas State Capitol. The red, white and blue vertical design captures the timeless iconic spirit of the late governor and features twelve images made throughout her lifetime with notable quotes. The Writing on the Walls display commemorates the  30th anniversary of Richards’ inauguration on January 15, 1991 when an estimated crowd of 15,000 Texans joined her in a peaceful march up Congress Avenue to the Capitol.

“Honoring this momentous woman and significant anniversary by introducing new audiences to her legacy was a great fit for Writing on the Walls. We are excited for people to come out and see the banners, take photos and let her memory inspire a new generation of leaders.”

— Molly Alexander, Executive Director, Downtown Austin Alliance Foundation

Words That Changed History

A Teacher

"Teaching was the hardest work I had ever done, including being Governor of Texas."

Ann Richards started her professional life as a classroom teacher, teaching social studies and history at Fulmore (now Lively) Middle School in Austin. She always believed that education was the ticket to opportunity and equality and dedicated her professional life to breaking down the barriers for the disenfranchised. Today, the Ann Richards School for Young Women Leaders is Governor Richards' primary living legacy, with the goal to advance education, empower young women and create opportunities for girls who may otherwise be held back from achieving their full potential.

Ann Richards School for Young Women Leaders

A Public Servant

"Life isn't fair, but government absolutely must be."

Richards, a mother of four and grandmother of eight, grew up near Waco, Texas. She was the first woman elected Travis County Commissioner and the first woman elected Texas State Treasurer before running for Governor. While in office, she appointed an unprecedented number of women, people of color, Texans with disabilities and LGBTQ community members to Texas boards and agencies. She attracted numerous new businesses to the state and appointed Texas Congresswoman Barbara Jordan as her ethics advisor. While Governor, Richards led a reform of the Texas prison system, including establishing a substance-abuse program.

Ann Richards Legacy Project

"Always look ahead and never look back."

The Ann Richards Legacy Project is a non-profit organization whose goal is to inspire future generations to embody Governor RIchards' spirit and courage to lead. The organization is planning future public art projects and programs to honor Governor Richards' legacy. The Ann Richards Legacy Project was founded by Margaret Justus, who served as Richards' deputy press secretary from 1989-1994 and is currently an Austin-based communications consultant who leads Justus Communications LLC. The organization now commissions Governor Richards-inspired public art projects in other communities.

Ann Richards Legacy Project

“Governor Richards is one of the historic political leaders I admire most because she was a fearless woman who knew how to succeed in a world often dominated by men. She knew that if you can’t change the game, then you have to come up with new moves.”

— Natasha Harper-Madison, Austin Mayor Pro Tem

Inauguration Speech of Governor Ann Richards

Ann Richards Banners

Inspired by Governor Richards’ wit, grace, and tenacity, the banners that lined Congress Avenue brought her larger-than-life spirit back to the Texas capitol. Bringing the community together, the Paramount also participated by showcasing a quote by Ann Richards on their marquee.

ann richards banner project banners along congress avenue organized by the downtown austin alliance foundation

Banner of ann richards along congress avenue for the downtown austin alliance foundation's ann richards banner project

Banner saying "Ginger Rogers did everything Fred Astaire did. She just did it backwards and in high heels." which was a quote of Ann Richards

Banner saying "Cherish your friends and family as if your live depended on it. Because it does." which was a quote of Ann Richards

Banner saying "I've been tested by fire, and the fire lost." which was a quote of Ann Richards

Ann Richards on a motorcycle

Profile of Ann Richards in her twenties

Ann Richards around the time she was Governor of Texas

The Paramount theater in downtown austin commemorates the ann richards art project hosted by the downtown austin alliance foundation on their marquee


The Downtown Austin Alliance Foundation would like to extend our heartfelt thanks to the following sponsors that helped fund this installation:

Writing on the Walls

The Ann Richards Banner project is a part of the Downtown Austin Alliance Foundation’s Writing on the Walls program. Click here to learn more about the program or to donate.

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