Houstonians passionate about education gathered at Cesar Chavez High School on Houston ISD's Chavez-Huerta Day to march against the Texas Education Agency's takeover of the district.
The march was led by civil rights leader and Grand Marshal Virgil Wood, who has worked with Cesar Chavez and Martin Luther King Jr.
Chavez-Huerta Day is a national holiday for Cesar Chavez and Dolores Huerta, who are honored by HISD on March 31st for their work as labor and civil rights activists. Earlier this month, League of United Latin American Citizens' Isidro Garza said the day of the march was intentional.
"There will be streets that will be blocked. We have gotten interest from all over the country," he said. "On that day, what was passed three years ago, we'll have 190,000 students that are gonna be home. We're gonna have 27,000 HISD employees, teachers, etc. that are gonna be home."
Garza said the city provided emergency facilities and METRO provided cool down areas for the march.
Before the march, Bishop James Dixon voiced what he felt was the reason behind the takeover.
"The reason for shutting down the strongest school district in Texas, the reason is using vouchers to empower private education," he said. "And the reason is you don't want to see greatness that looks Black and brown."
Jaquelyne Bardales is a sociology student at Rice University who was there to voice her opposition of the takeover.
"They're changing the education, what they're actually teaching to the students, they're trying to wipe Black and brown voices from the education system," she said. "It's really a travesty."
The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) also filed a complaint Friday with the Department of Justice to investigate the TEA for those who felt their rights as voters were being violated.
"[There are] parents and teachers and students here who are voters and future voters who want to be able to hold their school board of trustees accountable," Ashley Harris with ACLU said. "And fight for better education and continue great education at HISD."
The complaint was filed on behalf of parents of students at Houston public schools. Houston ISD is the largest school district in the state and eighth largest school district in the country.
"The district was making a lot of progress after we voted in new trustees. That's how democracy works," said Anna Chuter, one of the parents involved in the complaints. "The state just wants to control every aspect of our lives, and I'm afraid of how this will affect our family. My son is finally getting the special needs education he deserves, but now neither of us know what will happen."
Adriel I. Cepeda Derieux is deputy director of the ACLU's Voting Rights Project. In an emailed statement, he said the takeover would put an “unelected commissioner in charge of the school district, with no electoral accountability to Houston's voters of color."
“It's critical the Department of Justice step in to investigate potential violations of the Voting Rights Act and the U.S. Constitution."