PHOTO AUGUST 16, 2013
Wendy Davis, the Texas state senator who became a national figure when she filibustered an abortion bill for eleven hours this June, was smiling the day she graduated from Harvard Law School, but she was ready to say goodbye. Cambridge made her acutely aware of her unusual pedigree. More than a decade earlier (she’s 30 in this photo), a brochure for a paralegal program had led Davis, a divorcée struggling to keep the lights on in the trailer she shared with her daughter, Amber, to Tarrant County Community College and then to Texas Christian University, where she graduated first in her class. But Davis had never felt so daunted as she did by Harvard—and by her schedule, alternating every ten days at school with five days in Fort Worth, where her second husband was raising Amber and their younger daughter, Dru. Still, Davis graduated cum laude and with a newfound interest in public service. She spent her free time in Boston working at a legal clinic for AIDS patients, and her favorite class was a history of the Civil Rights–era Warren Court. She was particularly struck by the lecture on Brown v. Board of Education, which helped inspire her first filibuster in 2011—against cuts to Texas schools.