Commissioner Ellis Unveils ‘Freedom’ Marker

By: David Ellison

When philanthropist William O. Perkins III embarked on a massive project to analyze thousands of run-away slave advertisements, one of the main angles he wanted to relay to the public is the human experience and desire to be free. “As I look at these ads and courageous acts, it’s hard to get me to walk around Memorial Park for 3 miles,” Perkins said at a ceremony hosted by Harris County Commissioner Rodney Ellis to unveil a Freedom Marker to honor “Ben,” who escaped slavery on Sept. 13, 1864. “So, these people were running hundreds of thousands miles – no compass, no Google Maps, nothing. Just the desire to be free or the desire to reunite with a loved one.” Perkins initiated a project that resulted in a searchable database of more than 10,000 enslaved people who sought their freedom by running away.


The Ben marker, which was donated to Harris County, was the first monument presented to the public at a ceremony held at the University of Houston-Downtown on Wednesday, Sept. 13. The event took place during International Underground Railroad Month, which is recognized in September because well-known freedom seekers and Underground Railroad operatives, Frederick Douglass and Harriet Tubman, escaped from slavery in that month. “These projects give us space to reflect on our past but also to imagine a future where George Floyd, Sandra Bland, Ahmad Aubery, Breonna Taylor, and all the others would still be alive,” Commissioner Ellis said. “Ben’s marker will serve that exact purpose.”

Commissioner Ellis and his staff will determine where to place the bronze marker, which resembles a manhole-styled plate. “I want to have it where people can walk by and interact with history,” Perkins said of the markers. “We can’t put up 70,000 vertical markers in a city. But we can put something they can walk over and be like, ‘Oh, what is this?’ and spark that curiosity.” County Attorney Christian Menefee said the words written in the run-away slave ad almost make Ben look like a coward or deviant. “He’s supposed to be ‘lurking’ around the city,” Menefee said of the ad language. “And it just reminded me of the importance of not accepting the oppressors’ words and descriptions about our actions when we are doing them. Ben was not a coward. He was a fighter. He did what was necessary to have the defiance that would save his life.” Commissioner Ellis said he’s grateful for Perkins donation. “Today, we move forward by looking back,” Commissioner Ellis said. “We acknowledge violent acts, from slavery to the recent murders of Black people, in a restorative way through art. Public art can inspire, make change, remind us of our history, and unite people in a common cause.


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October 16, 2023, HOUSTON, TX – Congressional Candidate Amanda Edwards has raised over $1 million in less than 4 months, a substantial sum that helps bolster the frontrunner status of the former At-Large Houston City Council Member in her bid for U.S. Congress. Edwards raised over $433,000 in Q3 of 2023. This strong Q3 report expands on a successful Q2 where Edwards announced just 11 days after declaring her candidacy that she had raised over $600,000. With over $829,000 in cash-on-hand at the end of the September 30th financial reporting period, Edwards proves again that she is the clear frontrunner in the race. “I am beyond grateful for the strong outpouring of support that will help me to win this race and serve the incredible people of the 18th Congressional District,” said Edwards. “We are at a critical juncture in our nation’s trajectory, and we need to send servant leaders to Congress who can deliver the results the community deserves. The strong support from our supporters will help us to cultivate an 18th Congressional District where everyone in it can thrive.” Edwards said. “Amanda understands the challenges that the hard-working folks of the 18th Congressional District face because she has never lost sight of who she is or where she comes from; she was born and raised right here in the 18th Congressional District of Houston,” said Kathryn McNiel, spokesperson for Edwards’ campaign. Edwards has been endorsed by Higher Heights PAC, Collective PAC, Krimson PAC, and the Brady PAC. She has also been supported by Beto O’Rourke, among many others. About Amanda: Amanda is a native Houstonian, attorney and former At-Large Houston City Council Member. Amanda is a graduate of Eisenhower High School in Aldine ISD. Edwards earned a B.A. from Emory University and a J.D. from Harvard Law School. Edwards practiced law at Vinson & Elkins LLP and Bracewell LLP before entering public service. Edwards is a life-long member of St. Monica Catholic Church in Acres Homes. For more information, please visit

As September 13th rolls around, we extend our warmest birthday wishes to the creative powerhouse, Tyler Perry, a man whose indomitable spirit and groundbreaking work have left an indelible mark on the world of entertainment. With his multifaceted talents as an actor, playwright, screenwriter, producer, and director, Tyler Perry has not only entertained but also inspired audiences worldwide, particularly within the African-American community, where his influence and role have been nothing short of powerful. Born in New Orleans, Louisiana, in 1969, Tyler Perry’s journey to stardom was a path riddled with adversity. Raised in a turbulent household, he found refuge in writing, using it as a therapeutic outlet. This period of introspection gave rise to one of his most iconic creations, Madea, a vivacious, no-nonsense grandmother who would later become a beloved figure in Perry’s works, offering a unique blend of humor and profound life lessons. Despite facing numerous challenges, including rejection and financial struggles, Perry’s determination and unwavering belief in his abilities propelled him forward. In 1992, he staged his first play, “I Know I’ve Been Changed,” which, although met with limited success, was a pivotal moment in his career. Unfazed by initial setbacks, Perry continued to hone his craft, and by 1998, he had successfully produced a string of stage plays that showcased his storytelling prowess.

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