Know your history: Houston humanitarian Mickey Leland

George Thomas (Mickey) Leland was born in Lubbock, Texas, on November 27, 1944. His maternal grandfather nicknamed him “Mickey.” Shortly after his birth, his parents separated and he moved with his mother, Alice Rains, and brother, Gaston, to Houston, where his mother worked as a short–order cook. Rains put herself through school and became a teacher.

Leland graduated from Phyllis Wheatley High School in 1963 and attended Texas Southern University. Earning his degree in pharmacy in 1970, Leland worked as an instructor of clinical pharmacy at TSU before taking a job as a pharmacist. He also served with several university organizations, setting up free clinics and other aid for the Houston–area poor.

Influenced by diverse doctrines—the writings of black activists and the emphasis of his Roman Catholic faith on helping the disadvantaged, Leland was active in the civil rights movement as a student in the late 1960s, often participating in protests, and describing himself as a “Marxist” and a “revolutionary.”

He was one of the key figures who sparked what became known as the “TSU riots” in 1967.  His arrest while demonstrating against police brutality proved to be a pivotal moment in his life, persuading Leland to work within the political system rather than against it. Leland was first elected to the Texas state house of representatives in 1972 and served his Houston neighborhood from 1973 to 1979. He quickly earned a reputation as a militant, firebrand politician in the state legislature, appearing on the first day in a tie–dyed dashiki shirt, an Afro haircut, and platform shoes.

In 1978, three–term Houston Representative Barbara Jordan announced her retirement from Congress. Leland faced off against another African American candidate, Anthony Hall, and won in a runoff primary. Without official opposition in the general election, Leland won 97 percent of the vote for the 96th Congress (1979–1981). He was re–elected five times.

Leland proved an active advocate for all minorities, focusing particularly on the needs of his black and Hispanic constituents. To best serve the large Mexican–American population in his district, Leland learned Spanish.  One of his first acts in Congress was to fund a six–week trip to Israel to allow underprivileged black teenagers from the Houston area to learn about Jewish culture and to create a cross–cultural dialogue between the youths in the two countries.

Leland regularly raised aid for Houston–area food banks, which provided him with greater leverage for creating a committee on hunger. He was also an outspoken advocate for alleviating hunger in Africa.

On August 7, 1989, Leland took advantage of the congressional summer recess to check on the progress of a refugee camp near the Sudanese–Ethiopian border. Shortly after his plane took off from Addis Ababa, it crashed over a mountainous region in Ethiopia while navigating a storm. All 15 people aboard were killed, including Leland and three congressional aides. Out of mutual respect for Leland, the United States and Ethiopia temporarily repaired their strained diplomatic relations, and Ethiopian military leader Mengistu Haile Mariam allowed American military spy planes to search for Leland’s downed aircraft. The U.S. military discovered the wreckage after seven days of searching, and a congressional delegation accompanied Leland’s remains to Texas for burial.

He had a wife, Alison, and a son, Jarrett.

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 www.edwardsforhouston.com

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.

Calling all teenage student-athletes! If you have dreams of playing college soccer and wish to represent an HBCU, the HBCU ID Camp is your golden opportunity. From 8 am to 5 pm on November 11-12, Houston Sports Park will transform into a hub for aspiring male and female soccer players. Coaches from HBCUs across the nation will be present to evaluate, scout, and offer valuable feedback. Moreover, they might even spot the next soccer prodigy to join their collegiate soccer programs. This camp is not just about honing your soccer skills but also a chance to connect with the HBCU soccer community. You’ll learn the ins and outs of what it takes to excel on the field and in the classroom, which is crucial for a college athlete. The HBCU ID Camp is an excellent platform to network with coaches, learn from experienced athletes, and take the first steps toward your college soccer journey. To secure your spot at this incredible event, don’t forget to register [here](insert registration link). Space is limited to 120 participants, so make sure to reserve your place before it’s too late. It’s time to turn your dreams of playing college soccer into a reality.

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