Texas Tribune Festival kicks off with big names in politics

Texas Tribune Festival panel discusses Voting Rights Act (Josh Hinkle/KXAN)

AUSTIN (KXAN) — Libertarian presidential nominee Gary Johnson and several other big names in politics along with Phil Collins and Lance Armstrong are going to be in Austin for the Texas Tribune Festival.

It is one of the fastest growing political conferences and it kicks off on Friday. More than 3,000 people have purchased tickets. Organizers say the Texas Tribune Festival is about “real social issues” so they have tailored sessions around hot topics we often see in the news.

An example of one of the topics of discussion is “Race and Law Enforcement.” In light of the recent protests in Charlotte, North Carolina after the police-involved shooting of a black man.

Considering that the nation may see first woman president soon, one workshop asks the question “Is Texas Good For Women.” Another big area of discussion and dialogue is education. One session will include grading the STAAR and another focuses on the soaring costs of college.

Organizer Evan Smith says for the first time many guests are flying in from Washington D.C.

“In three days, you can come to Texas and you can learn everything you need to know about public policy and the political environment in Texas. Go back be smarter for the next year, then come back again,” said Smith.

The lineup of speakers is impressive. On Friday night Ohio’s Governor and former 2016 presidential candidate John Kasich will give the opening keynote. He is just one of the four former presidential candidates set to speak this weekend.

Attendees will also include Olympic Gold Medalist and former Longhorn track star Sanya Richards-Ross on Saturday. She is part of the panel looking into college sports.

Cyclist and cancer survivor Lance Armstrong will also take part in Saturday morning’s session. He will be talking about finding a cure for cancer.

Musician Phil Collins will also be speaking at a panel called The Remaking of the Alamo. Collins’ childhood fascination with Davy Crockett led him to become a collector of Alamo artifacts.

The festival ends on Sunday.

Gigi Barnett is live with a closer look at why this festival is important to you, even if you’re not going. 

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