Last month, the nation was shaken up by the results of the national elections. With new President-elect Donald Trump, whose offensive campaign language towards many groups of people has raised concerns about his leadership of the country, it is now more crucial than ever for our communities to come together.
The Texas Civil Rights Project, an organization that has done a remarkable job defending the rights of the most vulnerable people in our state, awarded local business owner and community leader Tim League with the Renato Ramirez Community Empowerment Award on Nov. 10 at the 26th Bill of Rights Dinner.
Founder and Chief Executive Office of the Alamo Drafthouse Cinema Tim League and his wife Karrie have not only created a successful theater franchise but have done their part in advancing progress in our community.
The Leagues’ both attended Rice University. Learning from a rough business experience with their first theater in Bakersfield, CA, they moved back to Texas in 1995. Tim, a native of Texas, stated that all signs pointed to a move to Austin as real estate was affordable back then and there was a prominent film scene to boot. So the couple returned to Austin with a projector and theater seats and started the Alamo Drafthouse.
Over 20 years later with a thriving business and locations in 22 cities, League and his Alamo Drafthouse team created a partnership with the League of Women Voters and Travis County Tax Assessor-Collector Bruce Elfant’s office to encourage civic participation leading up to the 2016 election day. As League explained, his engagement with the Bernie Sanders campaign prompted him to do his part to get the community involved in the presidential election.
“We have thousands of people coming through our doors each month, so I reached out to the League of Women Voters to see if they would like to partner on events and set up voter registration in our lobbies,” League said.
During the 26th Bill of Rights Dinner, just days after election day, League provided the audience with words of advice that he has received in the past. “When you’re feeling helpless, the most important thing you can do is be hopeful,” League said as he received his award. “It is a very important time to be helpful.”
TCRP’s Executive Director Mimi Marziani brought up some of the organization’s cases during her opening speech at the event. One was about a hardworking, young Latina mom from El Paso who spent 10 days in jail for her inability to pay parking tickets and other fines despite the fact that the U.S. Constitution prohibits debtors’ prison. Another was the case of a Mexican immigrant without legal status who has been in the Rio Grande Valley since her youth and is now a mom of two girls born in Texas. State officials refused to grant her birth certificates for her daughters because the identifications she presented, a Matricula Consular and Mexican Passport, were not good enough.
“I love what the Texas Civil Rights Project represents and I care about the issues for which they fight,” League said. “This is a huge honor for me, but.. I should really pass it along to the attorneys in the organization who are taking big issues to the supreme court in an effort to make Texas a more fair and just state. They are the real honorees in my book.”