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'Bringing us together': The Ann Richards Legacy Project releases new book 'The One Ann Only.'

From 'The One Ann Only'
Bob Daemmrich
Ann Richards Legacy Project
From 'The One Ann Only'

If you spent much time driving through downtown Austin last year, you surely saw some of the dozens of ‘Ann Banners’ on display. A project of the Ann Richards Legacy Project, that collection of banners marked the 30 year anniversary of the late governor’s inauguration by displaying photos of Richards along with many of her most famous and popular quotes.

The banner project started as a sort of pandemic-era compromise, as Covid-19 made large gatherings and celebrations a difficult prospect. “Folks who wanted to gather for the governor’s 30th anniversary of her inauguration couldn’t do it because no one was meeting in public and in person,” says Margaret Justus, the founder of the Ann Richards Legacy Project. “I had been talking about doing things to honor Governor Richards for a while, and the Downtown Austin Alliance Foundation reached out and they said, ‘Let’s collaborate on something.’”

Nearly 100 Ann Banners went up in Austin last March (and later in five other major Texas cities). Philanthropists Lynne Dobson and Greg Wooldridge were key to getting those banners on display across Texas, and, Justus recalls, “They said, ‘Let’s don’t stop there. Why don’t we… create a book about Ann’s one-liners and put it together as a project for the Legacy Project?’ And so they graciously sponsored the book and helped [assemble it], because they have journalism backgrounds. And of course Lynne’s a former photojournalist with the Austin American-Statesman [and] Greg’s a former newspaper editor. And so together the three or us collaborated and created the book.”

That book – The One Ann Only – is set for release next month. Justus says the trio tried to find photos for The One Ann Only that hadn’t been widely seen before.
“What we really were striving for was not just a lot of head-and-shoulders shots,” she says. “But shots that were rare, that folks hadn’t seen. In fact, the book features nearly 80 photos by 33 different photographers, including some like Annie Leibovitz, Ave Bonar, and Kirk Tuck and some others. But it also features historical photos… from her private papers, which are held at the Dolph Briscoe Center here at UT.”

Getting access to those materials proved a little difficult during the pandemic – while working on the book, Justus wasn’t able to actually go inside the Briscoe Center. “And so what they did is [they] allowed a lot of Zoom calls,” Justus says. “Where I had staffers from Dolph Briscoe hold up photos, one at a time, on Zoom, saying, ‘Do you like this one? Do you like this one?’ And so I came up with a collection of photos that not a lot of folks had seen.”

In its finished state, the book includes photos dating back to Richards’ grade school days, up through her entire political career and after her years as governor.

“When people look at the book – it’s a small book – they’ll say oh, this is a sweet little gift book about who Ann was,” Justus says. “But if you take a closer look and spend more time with it, you’re going to see a detailed timeline of her life that lists her accomplishments as governor. And they’re pretty amazing if you think about it. They were all about progressive reforms of government and bringing us together as a state rather than dividing us. And I think that’s what’s going to give people hope.”

'The One Ann Only'is available for pre-order now at many bookstores, including BookPeople and BookWoman
The Austin Library Foundation will host a panel discussion about the book at the Austin Austin Central Library on June 16.

Mike is the production director at KUT, where he’s been working since his days as an English major at the University of Texas. He produces Arts Eclectic, Get Involved, and the Sonic ID project, and also produces videos and cartoons for When pressed to do so, he’ll write short paragraphs about himself in the third person, but usually prefers not to.
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